Regulations
Auditor alleges favours, Reliance Jio denies

The Comptroller Auditor General of India said by allowing Reliance Industries to offer voice telephony with a broadband licence, the Department of Telecom had caused a loss of Rs3,367.29 crore

 

India's official auditor has alleged that the broadband arm of Reliance Industries was given undue pecuniary favours worth over Rs3,000 crore by the government -- a charge which the company strongly refuted.
 
The Comptroller Auditor General of India said by allowing Reliance Industries to offer voice telephony with a broadband licence, the Department of Telecom had caused a loss of Rs3,367.29 crore.
 
"Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (formerly, M/s Infotel) paid UL entry fee of Rs.15 crore and additional migration fee of Rs1,658 crore in August 2013. This migration, allowed at prices discovered in 2001, resulted in undue advantage of Rs3,367.29 crores to M/s Reliance Jio Infocomm," the CAG said in a report tabled in parliament.
 
"The decision to grant permission to an ISP (Internet) licensee with BWA (broadband) spectrum to operate in the voice telephony space also helped the ISP to circumvent the restrictions imposed by their licence at the time of auction, which were known to the ISP at the time of bidding for BWA spectrum," the audit report added.
 
It said the company -- which is now offering broadband under the Reliance Jio brand name -- was the first to take benefit of this scheme.
 
But the company faulted the audit assessment. "No favour has ever been given," a company spokesperson said.
 
"We have always conducted our business as per the prevailing laws and have abided by the rules and regulations prescribed by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and other regulatory authorities," the spokesperson said.
 
"We have acquired all our spectrum at market prices through open and transparent bidding processes, the conditions for which were same for all bidders. Further, the DoT rules for procuring the relevant licence for services using BWA spectrum too were the same for all successful bidders."
 
CAG said the auction rules "suffered from deficiencies like absence of financial parameters in the eligibility criteria for bidders, absence of lock-in-provision, disparity in scope of usage of BWA spectrum, lack of intermediate milestones in roll out targets etc."
 
While full fledged telecom operators were paying 3 to 5 percent depending on the quantum of spectrum held by them, BWA spectrum winners were asked to pay just 1 percent of its AGR as per the auction rule.
 
"This relaxation would result in significant loss of revenue to the government over 20 year licence period, since the BWA spectrum had potential to provide voice services also in addition to data services," CAG said.

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Competition Commission probing Google in four cases: Jaitley
Two other cases have been filed by Vishal Gupta and Albion InfoTel Ltd against Google Inc, Google Ireland Ltd and Google India
 
The Competition Commission, which had ordered probes against Google in four different cases for alleged abuse of dominant market position, has received a combined investigation report in two cases till date, parliament was told on Friday.
 
"In two cases filed by Consim Info Pvt Ltd and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), both against Google Inc and Google India Pvt Ltd, a combined investigation report has been submitted by DG (director general), CCI," Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
 
"The cases filed do not allege any financial loss to the government," he added.
 
Two other cases have been filed by Vishal Gupta and Albion InfoTel Ltd against Google Inc, Google Ireland Ltd and Google India.
 
The fair trade regulator has directed its investigation arm, the DG, to investigate these cases under the provisions of the Competition Act, the minister said.
 
Consim Info and CUTS had approached the CCI alleging that Google had abused its dominant position position through practices such as search bias, search manipulation, denial of access, and by creation of entry barriers for competing search engines.
 
In March 2013, the CCI fined Google Rs1 crore for failure to comply with the DG's investigation by not providing all requested information.
 

 

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SC allows Sahara to arrange bank guarantee to comply with court order

The court accepted Sahara's proposition, given by Sibal, that the bank guarantee shall only be encashed by the market regulator upon the directions of the court

 

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Sahara to arrange a bank guarantee of Rs5,000 crore in the favour of the capital market regulator to comply with the conditions for the release of its chief Subrata Roy and two other directors who are in custody in Delhi's Tihar jail since March 4, 2014.
 
A bench of Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice A.K.Sikri allowed Sahara to go ahead with arranging the guarantee from a scheduled bank, after amicus curiae Shekhar Naphade and senior counsel Arvind Datar appearing for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) okayed the format while informing the court that Sahara have not disclosed the bank's name.
 
The apex court by its March 26, 2014 order had said that Sahara would be paying Rs10,000 crore towards refund of the investors money out of which Rs5,000 crore would be in cash and Rs5,000 crore in bank guarantee. The court had said this this too would be condition for the release of Roy and two other directors - Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dube - from judicial custody. 
 
On Friday, the court did not accept the SEBI's submission that the encashment of the bank guarantee, which Sahara would be furnishing, would be subject to the time frame in which it would be making full payment of the balance amount of the investors money as ordered by the court August 31, 2012.
 
The court also did not accept SEBI's submission that the acceptance of Rs10,000 crore - Rs5,000 crore cash and Rs5,000 crore bank guarantee - was subject Sahara indicating the time line in which they would refund the balance amount.
 
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Roy, contested SEBI's position saying what was being said by the market regulator was not flowing from March 26, 2014 apex court order.
 
The court accepted Sahara's proposition, given by Sibal, that the bank guarantee shall only be encashed by the market regulator upon the directions of the court. 
 
The apex court by its August 31, 2012 order had asked Sahara group'ss two companies - Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited (SHICL) - to return investors Rs24,600 crore along with 15% interest.
 
Two Sahara companies had moped up this money from investors through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCSs) in 2007 and 2008.
 
The court fixed May 14 as the next date of hearing as Sibal said that they would tell the court about the steps taken by the Sahara to comply with the court's March 26, 2014, directions.
 
On the next hearing, the court will also hear Sahara's plea that it may be allowed to retain with it the excess amount that it would get from the proceeds of its transactions to raised Rs10,000 crore for the payment of the statutory dues and employees' salaries and depositing of their provident fund dues.
 
As SEBI counsel Arvind Datar red-flagged the plea, the court told him that all the assets of Sahara are under freeze and they have to discharge their statutory obligations.
 
Telling Datar that discharge of statutory obligations take precedence over their liabilities, the court said that it would consider the plea on the next hearing.
 

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COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

2 years ago

Such cases take high time and ordinary public is denied justice when prime time is taken by these cases.One thing is clear from this and Salman Khan Hit and Run case that that judiciary does not follow equality that is guaranteed by constitution.One requires money and contacts while stepping Justice system.The question in everybody mind today is: Do all gets such electrifying hearing in appeal as in Salman case?Or one has to wait for generations to get JUSTICE.The lawyers fees as informed throe' social media will make many litigants to suicide,if he is entangled in legal battle in his lifetime.

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