New Delhi: A battery of
legal luminaries has been hired by affected telecom firms, many of
whom have tied up with international giants, to chart the next
course of action after the Supreme Court ordered the cancellation
of 122 telecom licences. But top lawyers see slim chance of a
reversal of the judgment.
If Tata Teleservices and Allianz Infratech (P) Ltd had hired
Harish Salve to give his counsel during the high-profile hearings,
Idea had retained C.S.Vaidyanathan, while Loop had roped in Aryama
These senior advocates apart, some legal firms were also advising
companies such as Hammurabi and Solomon, Amarchand Magaldas, J.
Sagar and Associates and Karanjawala and Company, as per
information available with the legal fraternity.
"We will study in detail the Supreme Court judgment and explore
all possibilities to protect our investment," said a statement
from Idea, a part of the Aditya Birla Group, adding it has been
penalised just because it was issued licences 18 months later.
A similar statement was issued by the Norwegian telecom operator,
which has a stake in Indian entity Uninor: "Telenor Group wants to
be clear that the Uninor operations are continuing. Our intention
is to fight to protect our lawful investments in the country."
But some legal experts feel the Supreme Court is unlikely to
reverse its judgment.
"Review petitions have a very slim chance of succeeding, since
99.99 percent of such pleas are decided through circulation. On
many occasions, they don't even come up for hearing," Vaidyanathan
"As far as a curative petition (a plea filed after the rejection
of a review petition) is concerned, that lies only when you have a
ground that you were not given the chance of a due hearing and
your right to natural justice has been violated," he added.
"That is not the situation in this case. So the best way forward
is to participate in the due process (auction of airwaves) as
desired by the honourable court to be decided by the regulator
within two months."
Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi also shared the views expressed by
Vaidyanathan. According to him, the Supreme Court judgment
restrained itself from expressing or passing any adverse comments
against the firms that hold these 122 licences.
"Approaching the court again may end up in drawing such comments
that can affect the proceedings in the trial court," he said,
referring to the ongoing hearing in the Special Trial Court of the
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Voicing reservation with some aspects of the 2G judgment, senior
counsel Rajiv Dhawan said telecom companies that lost the licences
may not participate in the fresh auction but seek to match the
highest bid since they already hold those licences.
Another alternative, says Dhawan, could be that the government
could fix the price of 2G licences and spectrum and let the
telecom operators pay the difference between the price they have
already paid and the new price.
But he also expressed his reservations with the judgment.
"It is jurisdictionally weak both on public interest doctrine and
judicial review. In the past, judges have been much more rigorous
in approaching the seminal questions which go to the root of the
(Parmod Kumar can be reached at email@example.com)