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August 31, 1999
Private telecom operators furnish promise to HCThe Association of Basic Telecom Operators today said all its members have given individual undertakings to the Delhi High Court that the New Telecom Policy 1999 will be subject to approval of the new Parliament.
''With this, basic operators have once again reaffirmed their total commitment to the sector and to build state-of-art communications infrastructure in the country,'' ABTO Secretary General S C Khanna said.
On August 3 the case was argued by Indira Jaising on behalf of the Delhi Science Forum where the main argument was that migration from a fixed licence system to a revenue sharing formula under the NTP 99 was not tabled in Parliament.
This was also followed by an argument on revenue loss to the government in case of migration.
The public interest litigation says Rs 17.57 billion will be lost from the budgeted licence fee during 1999-2000 if the revenue sharing formula comes into effect.
The Delhi High Court asked operators if they were willing to give an undertaking that the shift to revenue sharing would be subject to approval by the new house.
There would be no stay on collection of arrears and if operators accept the high court's suggestion, then the new revenue sharing policy comes into effect from August 1.
Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee, arguing on behalf of private operators, told the high court that the migration package needs to be implemented urgently to prevent widespread losses, if not bankruptcies.
On August 10, a division bench of Chief Justice S N Variava and Justice S K Mahajan passed an interim order allowing implementation of the new revenue sharing telecom package, subject to individual commitments by cellular and basic operators that they would abide by the decision of the new Parliament.
The judgement is not clear as it has deferred the issue by a few more months. Experts say the uncertainty is likely to discourage financial institutions from taking more exposure in the telecom sector that requires urgent infusion of funds.
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