Companies & Sectors
Airtel calls off Rs700 crore deal with Loop Mobile

Loop Mobile 17 lakh customer subscribers were supposed to join Airtel’s over 40 lakh subscribers in Mumbai. However, with Airtel calling off the deal, Loop Mobile subscribers are in left in a lurch

 

Bharti Airtel Ltd has called off its plans to acquire business and assets of Mumbai-based Loop Mobile, for about Rs700 crore, as the Department of Telecom (DoT) is yet to clear the deal.

 

A spokesperson for Loop Mobile told reporters, that the company and Bharti applied to DoT for approval of the business transfer in March 2014. The approval for the transaction is still awaited from the relevant authorities as a result of which Bharti Airtel has withdrawn from the proposed transaction causing huge loss to the company.

 

The DoT is yet to give clearance to the deal as it estimates that Loop Mobile and its sister concern Loop Telecom owe about Rs808 crore in spectrum and other charges to the government.

 

Loop Mobile’s permit in Mumbai is expiring on 29th November and the company did not purchase spectrum in February auction, which was mandatory for continuing its operations.

 

Airtel had signed a deal with Loop in February this year to buy business and assets of Loop Mobile in Mumbai under a strategic agreement for about Rs700 crore.

 

Under the agreement, Loop Mobile’s three million subscribers (at that time) in Mumbai were supposed to join Airtel’s over four million subscribers, making it largest network in the metropolitan city.

 

Loop Mobile will not be able to allow migration of its subscribers to Airtel as originally envisaged. No immediate comments were received from Airtel.

 

Private sector lender Axis Bank has told the DoT that Rs215-crore loan to Loop Mobile will be at risk if the deal of the Mumbai-based operator to sell its assets to Bharti Airtel is not approved.

 

A consortium led by Axis Bank had given advanced loans of Rs350 crore to Loop Mobile and the current outstanding stood at Rs215 crore, according to a communication by the bank to DoT.

 

Loop Mobile has applied to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for release of additional porting codes for facilitating port—out (transfer) of all its subscribers.

 

The company had over 17 lakh customer in August as per data released by TRAI.

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Public Interest Exclusive
Unfolding of Aadhaar scam: Guaranteed revenue flow for MNCs by Modi govt? –Part2

The earnestness with which the Modi government has guaranteed revenue flow for transnational automatic biometric data based identification companies from US and France is quite intriguing. Yashwant Sinha, SS Ahluwalia and Ananth Kumar, the vocal critics of Aadhaar from BJP appear to be tongue-tied on the issue

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC)’s interim order dated 26 July 2013 had asked Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to provide “written submissions, justifying non-disclosure of the information sought by the appellant under the provisions of Section 8 (1) (d) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act”. The UIDAI failed to do so on 10 September 2013, and instead agreed to share the copy of the contract agreements. It is manifestly insincere on the part of UIDAI to unsettle what was already settled matter as per its own letter of 10 September 2013 and the final order of CIC dated 21 October 2013.

 

The irony of UIDAI’s reasoning becomes quite stark when one pays heed to Clause 15.1 of the contract agreement with Accenture Services Pvt Ltd. It reads: "By virtue of this Contract, Accenture Services Pvt Ltd/ Team of Accenture Services Pvt Ltd may have access to personal information of the Purchaser and/or a third party or any resident of India, any other person covered within the ambit of any legislation as may be applicable." The purchaser has been defined and stated as the President of India through UIDAI.

 

The clause 15.3 reads: "The Data shall be retained by Accenture Services Pvt Ltd not more than a period of 7 years as per Retention Policy of Government of India or any other policy that UIDAI may adopt in future."

 

The contract agreement with L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company at clause 15.1 also reads: "By virtue of this Contract, L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company/ Team of L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company may have access to personal information of the Purchaser and/or a third party or any resident of India, any other person covered within the ambit of any legislation as may be applicable."

 

The clause 15.3 of this agreement also reads: "The Data shall be retained by L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company not more than a period of 7 years as per Retention Policy of Government of India or any other policy that UIDAI may adopt in future." The purchaser is President of India through UIDAI.

 

In his record of the hearing dated 3 September 2014, Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner, CIC wrote: “Having considered the records and submissions by both the parties, the Registry is directed to examine the matter concerning compliance with the order dated 21 October 2013 within two weeks of the issuance of this order.”

 

The matter pertained to UIDAI’s contracts with two foreign companies L1 and Accenture. Notably, L1 was a Delaware, US-based Corporation when the contract was signed. L-1 has since been bought over by French corporate conglomerate, Safran Group after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was convinced that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction. L-1 Identity Solutions announced agreement to be acquired by Safran on 20 September 2010.

 

Sagem Morpho, a unit of Safran already had a contract with UIDAI. As to Accenture Services Pvt Ltd, it is a "Biometric Solution Provider", a subsidiary of Dublin, Ireland based Accenture plc, a US company. Till 1 January 2001 it was known as Andersen Consulting. Both the contract agreements have been signed in the name of the President of India. While L1 was a US corporation, its Indian subsidiary had a registered office at 2, Frontline Grandeur, 14, Walton Road, Bangalore. Now that it has become a French company, it is not clear whether its Bangalore address is intact or not.

 

Vijay Bhalla, Deputy Registrar, CIC wrote a letter on behalf of Sharat Sabharwal, Information Commissioner, CIC to Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) & Deputy Director, UIDAI wrote, “As regards the remaining information concerning Technical Bid and Commercial Bid, it was observed that your decision (conveyed to the Appellant Mathew Thomas by letter No. F-12013/096/2012/RTI-UIDAI dated 20.12.2013) to deny this information to the Appellant after following the third party information procedure laid down in Section 11 (1) of the RTI Act was in conformity with the decision of High Court of Delhi in BSNL vs Chander Sekar; LPA N. 900/2010; date of decision 23 March 2012; Commission’s Full Bench decision dated 20 May 2013 in Kuljit Singh and Anr. vs. PFCL; and Commission’s decision dated 1 September 2014 in Ajay Chadha vs Charak Palika Hospital, NDMC; date of decision 1 September 2014; Appeal No. CIC/DS/A/2013/001664-YA and CC/DS/A/2013/001684-YA. Moreover, the Appellant has not established any larger public interest warranting the disclosure of information in question. Therefore, there shall be no disclosure with regard to the information concerning Technical Bid and, Commercial Bid as it falls under the exemption category of Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act.”

 

Under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Public Information Officer (PIO) cannot deny information citing commercial confidence for agreements between a public authority and private party. While giving its judgement in this regard, the CIC said “The claim of 'commercial confidence' in denying access to agreements between private parties and the masters of the public authorities—citizens—runs counter to the principles of the RTI. “Any agreement entered into by the government is an agreement deemed to have been entered into on behalf of the and in the interest of ‘We the people’. Hence, if any citizen wants to know the contents of such an agreement he is in the position of a principal asking his agent to disclose to him the terms of the agreement entered into by the agent on behalf of the principal. No agent can refuse to disclose any such information to his principal,” the CIC said in its order dated 27 July 2009.

 

The Commission was of the view that “The objectives of the RTI Act would be defeated if public authorities claim exemption based on a claim that ‘terms and condition were much more favourable to the government’, and therefore these must be kept away from the Public. In fact, public feels that quite often the contrary is the case,” the Commission noted. The CIC observed, “Any so called imaginary moral or reciprocal obligation cannot be permitted to subvert a solemn constitutional and legal obligation” and directed the PIO to provide copy of the agreement.

 

Now the issue is should UIDAI comply with the letter of CIC’s Deputy Registrar or the order of Sushma Singh, Information Commissioner at the CIC? The latter gave her final order saying, “In the view of the above, the Commission hereby directs the respondent (UIDAI) to provide a copy of the two contracts to the appellant within two weeks from the receipt of the order.” It is quite clear that the letter of Deputy Registrar, CIC is pandering to the defeated argument of UIDAI but come what may this letter cannot override the final order of Information Commissioner, CIC. The Deputy Registrar supposedly acting on behalf Sharat Sabharwal, the Information Commissioner, has failed to consider public interest and is indulgent towards UIDAI’s reluctance to share complete information in violation of CIC’s order.

 

The earnestness with which the Narendra Modi government has guaranteed revenue flow for transnational automatic biometric data based identification companies from US and France is quite intriguing. Likes of Yashwant Sinha, SS Ahluwalia and Ananth Kumar, the vocal critics of Aadhaar from BJP appear to have become tongue tied on the issue.

 

The Supreme Court’s inertia in the face of violation of its order in the Aadhaar matter is equally baffling. The most astounding is the deafening and complicit silence of the non-Congress opposition parties.

 

Incidentally, states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which are ruled by vocal opposition parties tops the priority of the new government for Aadhaar enrolment but their leaders’ political and legal imagination is yet to come to terms with the ramifications of UIDAI’s Centralized Identities Data Repository (CIDR) and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR), which is one and the same. It appears that India has become a Parliamentary democracy without opposition.

 

Like the previous regime, this regime too has failed to take the Parliament, States and citizens into confidence on the justification for storage of personal sensitive information of residents of India by foreign companies in US and France for eternity. It is a case of mankind’s biggest data robbery in broad day light.

 

It will be interesting to see if there is any legislator either from the ruling party or from the opposition party who can defend the indefensible act of transferring the personal data of India’s civilian and defence population including future legislators, judges, Prime Ministers and Presidents besides intelligence officials to these countries with impunity in parliament’s winter session which commences from 24th November.

 

Read first part here


(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

 

You may also want to read…

 

Aadhaar blunders: Now, Home Ministry too is worried

 

Is Narendra Modi right in going back to Aadhaar?

 

Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part I

Biometric identification is modern day enslavement -Part II

Biometric profiling, including DNA, is dehumanising -Part III

Marketing and advertising blitzkrieg of biometric techies and supporters -Part IV

History of technologies reveals it is their owners who are true beneficiaries -Part V

UID's promise of service delivery to poor hides IT, biometrics industry profits –Part VI
Technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation? -Part VII

Surveillance through biometrics-based Aadhaar –Part VIII

Narendra Modi biometrically profiled. What about Congress leaders?-Part IX

Aadhaar: Why opposition ruled states are playing partner for biometric UID? -Part X

Is Nandan Nilekani acting as an agent of non-state actors? –Part XI

Aadhaar and UPA govt's obsession for private sector benefits–Part XII

CIA-funded MongoDB partners with UIDAI to handle Aadhaar data –Part XIII

Are Indians being used as guinea pigs of biometric technology companies? -Part XIV

Aadhaar: Is the biometric data of human body immortal and ageless? Part XV

Aadhaar: The propaganda of transnational vested interests –Part XVI

Aadhaar: Pakistan handed over, India giving database on a platter– Part XVII

Engineered row in US-India relations, an attention diversion tactics of big brothers?—Part XVIII

Aadhaar: UIDAI and the ‘fifth column’ of Napoleon—Part XIX

Aadhaar: Turning citizens into subjects through social control technology companies –PartXX

Why Kejriwal govt in Delhi should abandon biometric Aadhaar?—Part XXI

Aadhaar for LPG: Oil companies, Ministry of Petroleum & UIDAI disobeying Supreme Court order–Part XXII

Why Vasundhara Raje should immediately withdraw circulars making Aadhaar mandatory -Part XXIII

How Congress has been proven wrong on biometric Aadhaar and NPR -Part XXIV

Aadhaar, NPR, UN resolution and deafening silence of political parties –Part XXV

Is Congress converging UID numbers of EVMs and Indian voters? –Part XXVI

Is our political class trapped by economic hit men from database empires? -Part XXVII

Aadhaar & database risks: Will India evaporate to become nobody in our life time? –Part XXIX

How BJP’s Yashwant Sinha is wrong about ‘biometric’ National Population Register –Part XXX

Aadhaar: The lies of Nilekani and Congress over biometric profiling –Part XXXI

Why the PMO is hiding behind Election Commission on Nilekani’s resignation? -Part XXXII

Who allowed merger of voter database with the illegal Aadhaar? Part XXXIII

Has Nilekani followed Pakistan’s NADRA in creating, enforcing Aadhaar? –Part XXXIV

How biometric IDs can stir 'the Pot' and lead to civil war? -Part XXXV

Will Nandan Nilekani be held accountable for violating service conduct rules and citizens’ rights? Part XXXVI

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

USA has dirty state sponsored program where smart cities shall track your property details/personal violations of traffic/behavourial traits monitored by internet of things which Cisco is promoting.

Recnetly Mark Zuckerberg publicly stated that US state government writes malware programs to hack details from Facebook.

We are heading for dangerous public/private citizens privacy intrusions by state Aadhar is product of Nandan Nilekani who lost his elections but IIT geeks lose larger perspective in being extra focussed by technology addiction.Government joins the circus & public suffers.

Here we are unable to give health care /food/security/education but state wants more taxes with poor security nets.
Mahesh

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

USA has dirty state sponsored program where smart cities shall track your property details/personal violations of traffic/behavourial traits monitored by internet of things which Cisco is promoting.

Recnetly Mark Zuckerberg publicly stated that US state government writes malware programs to hack details from Facebook.

We are heading for dangerous public/private citizens privacy intrusions by state Aadhar is product of Nandan Nilekani who lost his elections but IIT geeks lose larger perspective in being extra focussed by technology addiction.Government joins the circus & public suffers.

Here we are unable to give health care /food/security/education but state wants more taxes with poor security nets.
Mahesh

Akhil Kodali

2 years ago

Is there any link to Sam Pitroda in all this?

Dhanaji Kenjle

2 years ago

Over the last 6 months Modi is on the National Stage and his various speeches full of "sagacious thoughts" reminds one of "Leaders like Nehru" who knew that the Indian Populace was simple, naive and wanted heroes to worship. This is in our genes. Last two decades a Hero could not be found. Now we have a "56 inch chest" hero, who can do no wrong. The lapses which have been pointed out in the Aadhar Scam(?) lead one to believe that the BJP wants to stay around in power only for 5 years and no more.
Dhanaji Kenjle

President Mukherjee dissolves Delhi Assembly, fresh polls soon

Ending the political hibernation since the AAP government fell in February, the President dissolved Delhi Assembly, paving way for fresh mandate

 

The Delhi Assembly was on Wednesday dissolved, paving the way for fresh elections that will end the political hibernation since the Aam Admi Party (AAP) government led by Arvind Kejriwal fell in February.

 

A notification issued by the Home Ministry said President Pranab Mukherjee has dissolved the ‘Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi with immediate effect’ on 4th November.

 

The Union Cabinet had Wednesday recommended dissolution of the Assembly following recommendation of LG Najeeb Jung after talks on Monday with the BJP, Congress and AAP, who expressed their inability to form a Government and sought a fresh mandate.

 

While fresh elections may be held early next year, the process for the 25th November by-elections to three constituencies, for which the last date for nominations is today, was revoked by the Election Commission Wednesday.

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