Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SC refuses to stay enhance license fee on mobile operators

SC refuses to stay enhance license fee on mobile operators

Agencies

Posted: Jun 22, 2010 at 1938 hrs IST

New Delhi Mobile operators in Delhi on Tuesday suffered a setback with the Supreme Court declining to stay the enhanced licence fee imposed by MCD on signal towers installed by the companies.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik, however, ordered MCD "shall not encash the FDRs" deposited by the operators towards the enhanced fee in pursuant to the Delhi High Court June 4 directive.

The apex court rejected the arguments of the operators that MCD had no authority to either impose or enhance the fees and that the latest move would adversely affect the companies and make the service unaffordable to consumers.

"No,no you must comply with the directive. There is no hardship for you (operators). You are not someone who cannot pay. You can afford to pay it. Are they not bound to impose it?" the bench told the counsel for the Cellular Operators Association of India.

The counsel had argued that the rates had been enhanced by the civic body for "unjust enrichment" and the decision would make increase operational costs of providers and deprive the citizens of "affordable world-class mobile telecom service."

As against the one-time fee of Rs one lakh per tower prescribed on November 20, 2003, MCD had on April 8, 2010, revised the fee at the rate of Rs five lakh for every five year.

When the counsel argued that MCD had no authority to impose fee,the bench said the contention was not valid as the operators had approached the civic body for permission to instal the towers.

"You applied for permission but now say they (MCD) had no authority to impose the fee," the bench snapped at the counsel.

Later, the apex court said it would not be proper for it to examine the validity of MCD's power to impose the license fee at this juncture as the Delhi High Court was already seized of the matter.

Hence, it asked the operators to get their grievance redressed by the High Court listed for hearing on July 12.

The High Court had on June 4 stayed its single bench order for constituting a committee of technical and medical experts to examine the potential health hazards from over 5,000 mobile phone towers in the national capital and refused to allow MCD seal 2,952 "illegal" towers in the city.

The bench had given the order on an appeal filed by MCD challenging a single judge's order on setting up the committee and allowing cellular companies to operate their towers by depositing Rs two lakh instead of Rs five lakhs in the form of FDRs with the High Court Registry.

Courtesy_

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