India’s nationwide cancellation of 2G licences has been upheld by the country’s Supreme Court, which has rejected an appeal against the decision by a number of local operators.
In a statement on its website, the court announced: "We have carefully perused the contents of the review petitions and the record of the case and are satisfied that the judgment of which review has been sought does not suffer from any error apparent warranting reconsideration of the issues decided therein,"
The appeal was made by Etisalat DB, Idea Cellular, Sistema Shyam, S Tel, Tata Teleservices, Uninor and Videcon. Operators across the country were affected by the 122 licence annulments, imposed after the court ruled in February that the circumstances of their issue were “totally arbitrary and unconstitutional.”
The 2G licences were sold off by the former telecom authorities - led by now-disgraced minister A Raja – on a first-come-first-served basis, rather than via an auction. The extra competition offered by the second method could have generated billions of dollars for India – Raja stands accused of losing this potential revenue.
The mass licence cancellation allowed all affected licensees four months to cease operating, and a number of international firms have stated that they will withdraw from the market – among them Bahraini-owned S-Tel and UAE-owned Etisalat.
The rejection of the appeal leaves the affected operators with just one option – filing a curative petition. This would essentially constitute another request to reassess the licence cancellations.