SC: revoked telecom permit holders stop operations

NEW DELHI Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:59pm IST

1 of 2. The sun rises behind a communications tower in New Delhi March 20, 2006.

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Mobile phone carriers in India whose permits were revoked last year must stop operations immediately unless they have won new rights to airwaves, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday according to three lawyers on the case.

The court last year ordered 122 permits held by eight carriers including the Indian units of Russia's Sistema (SSAq.L) and Norway's Telenor ASA (TEL.OL), as well as India-based Idea Cellular Ld (IDEA.NS) and Tata Teleservices to be revoked after a massive scandal over the permits sale process in 2008.

At least three of the firms that had their permits revoked, including the Indian affiliate of Emirates Telecommunication Corp Ltd, have ceased operations since the court order, while others like Telenor and Idea Cellular bought airwaves in the November auction.

Sistema Shyam TeleServices said in a statement that the court will issue a separate order about its case but declined to give further details.

Sistema Shyam is set to lose all but one of its operating permits, although it has the option to bid for airwaves in an auction scheduled next month. It did not bid for airwaves in the November auction, saying the prices were too high.

Telenor is still operating in the lucrative Mumbai zone although its permit was revoked and has said it may decide to bid in a March auction for airwaves in the Mumbai zone.

(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Writing by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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