Filing an affidavit, telecom operators have termed the government’s move to question the TDSAT’s jurisdiction as “a desperate attempt to avoid adjudication of the present dispute” and requested the tribunal to dismiss the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) application moved last week
New Delhi: The face-off between private telecom operators and the government over third generation (3G) roaming controversy continues with both questioning each other over the jurisdiction of telecom tribunal to decide over the issue, reports PTI.
Filing an affidavit, telecom operators have termed the government’s move to question the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) jurisdiction as “a desperate attempt to avoid adjudication of the present dispute” and requested the tribunal to dismiss the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) application moved last week.
The telecom operators have also opposed the submissions of the DoT that for 3G they need a separate licence.
“The DoT as a licensor should be aware that there is no 2G or 3G licence and the licence is common under UASL. This basic and fundamental error of perception colours the entire prospective and action of DoT,” said the operators in their reply.
Operators reply came over the new application moved by the DoT opposing tribunal’s jurisdiction to decide 3G roaming issue. The tribunal had directed the operators—Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele—to file their reply on the government’s move.
Over DoT’s claim that tribunal cannot decide over any dispute under the licence agreements, the operators submitted that “the licence itself contemplates that any dispute under the licence will be adjudicated by the TDSAT”.
They further said that even section 14 of the TRAI Act says that TDSAT has jurisdiction “as the expert body to decide all disputes pertaining to the license between the licensor and the licensee”.
Moreover, in the present dispute, they have not challenged the validity of terms of their licence but they stand with it that it supports 3G roaming.
On the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on AGR issue cited by the DoT in its application, the operators said that in that case TDSAT had struck down parts of the licence terms which authorised government to levy charges. Hence the apex court held that TDSAT could not have done so as it does not have the power to go behind the terms of licence.
On DoT’s plea that TDSAT should stay its proceedings and vacate the interim order passed by it as the same issue was sub-judice before the Delhi High Court in a writ petition, the operators said that the case has no significance and no notice has been issued yet.
“If the pendency of the PIL was of such significance then the DoT ought not to have taken any precipitative action during the pendency of the said case,” the operators said.
Filing a new application, the DoT has told TDSAT that it cannot entertain a petition seeking determination of contractual agreements and it is “not vested with the jurisdiction to grant declaration as prayed for”.
“This tribunal has no jurisdiction to declare and/or pass an order of judicial determination/declaration to any right under the licence agreement, therefore it cannot adjudicate the validity of any terms or include/add any other/further term in the agreement and add/read into it,” said DoT in the new application filed by its counsel Maneesha Dhir.
Passing an order on 24th December, the tribunal had directed the DoT not to take any coercive action against the telecom operators.
A day prior to that the government had asked five telecom operators to stop their inter-circle roaming on 3G bandwidth within 24 hours and it was challenged by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele before TDSAT.
The issue of raising the professional tax, currently capped at Rs2,500 per annum, will come up for discussion at the meeting of the Empowered committee of state Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax to be held in Bhopal on Monday
New Delhi: Chartered accountants, lawyers and other professionals may have to shell out more money as state governments are contemplating raising the incidence of professional tax, reports PTI.
The issue of raising the professional tax, currently capped at Rs2,500 per annum, will come up for discussion at the meeting of the Empowered committee of state Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be held in Bhopal on Monday.
“As per the current provisions, states have the power to revisit the maximum limit of Rs2,500 payable as professional tax...we will obviously look at increasing it, and take the states’ views on the issue,” Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who heads the panel on GST, told PTI.
Besides, he added, “We will also discuss the concept paper prepared by the (Union) finance ministry on negative list of services.”
Professional tax, according to KPMG executive director Pratik Jain, “is a state-level duty payable by employers (both public and private), who deduct it from the salaries of employees on a monthly basis.”
Mr Jain said that although the professional tax does not have significant financial implications, “companies want to avoid monthly compliance as it is cumbersome and would like to see it merged in GST.”
The Empowered Committee meeting, according to sources, will also deliberate on the issue of CST (Central Sales Tax) compensation.
Several states have expressed their unhappiness over delay in release of funds by the Centre to compensate them for revenue losses due to phased withdrawal of CST.
The Centre has released only Rs900 crore to states as CST compensation as against the provision of Rs 12,000 crore in the budget for 2011-12.
CST, a tax on inter-state movement of goods, was reduced from 4% to 3% in 2007-08, and further to 2% in 2008-09, after the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT).
There will be a presentation on the best I-T practices in states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh as a robust infrastructure is required for GST, Mr Modi said.
The progress with regard to the Constitution Amendment Bill relating to GST, currently pending with the Standing Committee on Finance, will also be reviewed by the Empowered Committee, Mr Modi added.
The finance ministry had given its nod to the DIPP’s proposal for allowing 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) by foreign airlines in domestic carriers, but with the rider that such investments should not violate SEBI’s takeover code
New Delhi: In a move to help cash-starved airlines like Kingfisher, the industry ministry is pitching for exemption of the sector from the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) takeover code, which would come in the way of foreign carriers picking up a 26% stake in domestic companies, reports PTI.
The finance ministry had in the first week of December given its nod to the proposal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for allowing 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) by foreign airlines in domestic carriers.
However, the finance ministry’s consent came with the rider that such investments should not violate SEBI’s takeover code, under which an open offer is triggered once an investor acquires a 26% stake in a listed company.
However, such a situation would lead to a Catch-22 situation, as the open offer trigger would take the FDI in the domestic carrier to 51%, breaching the proposed cap of 26%.
In a letter to the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), the DIPP has requested “a general exemption from SEBI regulations so that the same are not in conflict with the FDI policy”.
The sources said the DEA would seek an expert opinion on the issue from its capital markets division.
Most of the domestic airlines, including Kingfisher, Spice and Jet Airways, are listed companies and are in dire straits with respect to the state of their finances.
As per the present policy, up to 49% FDI is allowed in domestic carriers, but foreign airlines have been kept out of the option.
The policy tweaking may help the domestic industry get foreign investment.