Home & Office

Vodafone accuses Indian govt of breaking law

Department of Telecommunications revises terms governing how telcos can extend their spectrum licenses, provoking a vitriolic response from Vodafone which request for a license extension was rejected.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Vodafone has accused the Indian government of negligence, alleging it broke the law when it rejected a request to extend the telco's spectrum license in the country.

In a statement released Monday, Vodafone said the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) wrongly applied Clause 4.1 of the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012--which separates licence renewal from access to airwaves--when it denied a request to renew the carrier's wireless licenses in three areas.

Vodafone argued the NTP cannot be retrospectively applied to contracts signed under the previous legislation, specifically NTP 1999. It noted that as per Clause 4.1, the Indian government must negotiate arrangements for existing licence holders to transition to the new rules. 

"The DoT's rejection suffers from several fundamental flaws, contradictions, and jurisdictional error, completely misrepresents Vodafone India's position, and renders the said rejection legally unsustainable," Vodafone wrote in a letter to the DoT.

Vodafone refuted the government's claims it wanted a free extension, saying it had repeatedly requested terms to negotiate an arrangement--a requirement under clause 4.1, and also as ordered by the High Court on February 22.

The government has not responded, it added.

"The DoT rejection follows no meaningful discussion and displays pre-determined mindset," Vodafone said. "DoT has not only misinterpreted and misconstrued clause 4.1 of the license, but has also made it redundant. The rejection of application shows DoT has acted against public interest as it will lead to disenfranchising 50 to 60 percent of the market, leading to disruption of services."

As reported by The Times of India on March 23, the DoT informed Vodafone its licenses would not be renewed, essentially forcing it to bid for 2G spectrum at an auction slated for later this year.

Vodafone in February had accused the Indian government of "unjust enrichment" from canceling and reissuing licenses. Earlier this year, the government's 2G spectrum auction only attracted a single bidder.


Editorial standards