Idea Cellular wins crucial stay in ‘overlapping license’ fine of DoT

Idea has won an interim stay on the Rs 250 crore fine imposed by the Department of Telecom for allegedly violating the terms of its mobile operator license.

“The interim order has been granted on Idea’s plea against DoT’s demand notice issued to Idea in June ’11,” Idea said in a statement.

The issue of overlap came about after Idea acquired Spice Telecom in 2008 — thus coming to hold two licenses in six of the 22 circles in India.

The Aditya Birla Group firm had picked up a 41.09 per cent stake in Spice for about Rs 2,700 crore three years ago, as the Modi group was keen to exit its telecom business.

Out of the six licenses, Idea has already got a similar ruling from the TDSAT for the Punjab circle.

Idea was slapped with a Rs 50 crore fine for the Punjab circle under India’s telecom laws which prohibit a single operator from holding more than one license. However, the law for mergers and acquisitions is more complicated, giving Idea leeway to argue its way out of the situation.

The case will continue to be heard by the TDSAT.