Companies & Sectors
SC asks Government to complete 2G spectrum auction by January 2013

Existing operators using licenses of the 2G spectrum, were supposed to shut down operations by 7th September, but now are entitled to operate up to 18th January next year

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Government to complete fresh auction of cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum by 11 January 2013 and warned that failure to meet the deadline would invite 'contempt' action against erring officials with 'exemplary' cost, reports PTI.


A bench of justices GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan, which extended the 31 August 2012 deadline for completing the auction process, made it clear that no court in the country will entertain any plea on this issue of 2G spectrum.


It said existing licencees of the 2G spectrum, who had to shut down the operation by 7th September are "entitled to operate up to 18th January next year."


The bench, which expressed its displeasure against the Centre for not mentioning the "outer limit" for completing the auction process, said "unless it will fix the outer limit the auction process will never happen" and "it is also the fact of the matter that they (Centre) have not complied with the 2nd February judgement."


The judges, who were unhappy with the affidavit filed by the Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar, for not mentioning the outer limit for the fresh auction of 2G spectrum, said "the process cannot go for indefinite period."


They said without fixing the outer limit, it was not possible to extend the deadline as the "existing operators will make effort to scuttle the auction and delay the process."


The bench, which made it clear that no more extension would be granted for the purpose, said that it will peruse the development on 13th January "to know whether the Centre has proceeded with auction or not and to go for the future course on the allocation of 2G spectrum." .


The bench said, "in the facts and circumstances of the case, we accept the prayer made in the Centre's application to the extent of allowing time to the applicant (Centre) till 11 January 2013."


It said the bidding process, which will commence on 12th November, should be completed within 60 days.


It also made it clear that if the Telecom Ministry fails to comply with its direction to start the auction process, the petitioners, the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy would be at liberty "to bring it to the notice of the court."


"In case, the appellant (Centre) failed to do auction process by 11 January 2013, the court will be constrained to begin suo motu contempt proceeding against the erring officials and the court may also impose exemplary cost in the event of failure to complete the process," the bench said.


It also said, "we make it clear that no court in the country will entertain any suit, petition or applications involving auction pursuant to the direction given by this court."


The bench said on 13th January it will know who are the successful bidders and accordingly decide the future course about the issuance of letter of intents and allocation of licences for the 2G spectrum which were cancelled by the 2 February 2012 judgement.


The Supreme Court had on 24th August said it will consider extending the 31st August deadline for completing fresh auctioning of 2G spectrum licences only if the Centre gave an undertaking to implement its verdict and meet the time frame set by the Telecom Ministry.


The affidavit, filed by the Telecom Secretary, said the 2 February 2012 judgement for allocation of 2G spectrum would be "firmly" followed and the preparation for the auction was in full swing and almost in the final stage.


However, the bench took exception that the affidavit did not mention the deadline for completing the process of auction.


The court had earlier extended its original 2nd June deadline to 31 August 2012, refusing to grant 400 days sought by the government to complete the process of fresh auctioning.


In its application, the Telecom Ministry said it needed time till 12th November to start the auction and another 40 days to complete the procedure and allocate licences and spectrum.


The decision to approach the apex court for extension of time was taken at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom on 7th August.


The application said that the entire exercise would be completed in three months and 23 days.


It had also said the existing licences for the 2G spectrum will continue to be operational till 7th September.


The apex court on 2 February 2012 had cancelled 122 licences for the 2G spectrum and had directed their fresh auctioning by 2nd June.


L&T to sell plastic machinery business to Toshiba Machine

L&T sold its plastics machinery unit to Japanese Toshiba Machinery for an undisclosed amount

Mumbai: Continuing with the strategy of rationalising its portfolio by exiting non-core businesses, engineering company Larsen & Toubro (L&T) on Monday said it has sold its entire stake in L&T Plastics Machinery (LTPML) to a Japanese company Toshiba Machine Company Ltd, reports PTI. However, no financial details were provided.


"L&T today signed a share sale and purchase agreement, pending final closing conditions, with Toshiba Machine (TMC), Japan, to sell its entire stake in L&T Plastics Machinery Ltd. The move is in line with the L&T's strategic road-map to exit non-core businesses and rationalise its portfolio," a company said in a release.


Earlier, L&T had divested stake in its ready-mix concrete, cement and other non-core businesses.


LTPML, a wholly owned subsidiary of L&T, manufactures and markets injection moulding machines.


"With a significant installed base of injection moulding machines across various sectors such as automotive, packaging, stationery among others, the company enjoys strong brand recognition and has valuable on-going customer relationships," it said.


TMC is involved in the manufacture of injection moulding machines and other machinery and has manufacturing units in Japan and China, and primarily caters to the Asian and North American markets.


"As a part of its strategy to expand globally with a focus on developing countries, TMC has decided to acquire L&T's stake in LTPML," the company added.


Air India reinstating “sacked pilots”

Out of the 101 pilots it sacked in July, the state-run carrier has so far reinstated around 50 pilots and some of them are undergoing training on the simulator since the past three days

State-run carrier Air India has reportedly started reinstating pilots it sacked a few months ago. According to sources, some of the pilots have joined the carrier and are undergoing training on the simulator since past three days. However, if these pilots are training for the new B-787 Dreamliner, cannot be confirmed.


In July, Air India sacked 101 pilots owing alliance to Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG). According to sources, a three-member committee is taking the decision on reinstating pilots and so far have kept IPG leaders like Tauseef Mukadam, its joint secretary, away. Mr Mukadam has told a newspaper that he had received a rejection letter from Air India.


The three-member committee has been conducting interviews of these sacked pilots and taking a decision based on certain parameters. So far, over 50 pilots have been reinstated. The committee has completed the interviews of the remaining pilots and is likely to announce its decision in next few days. It, however, has rejected five pilots till date, but it cannot be confirmed.


Currently, the employee strength of Air India is around 26,481, of which 1,439 are pilots and executive pilots, 1,419 are engineers and executive engineers, 5,064 executives and general category officers, 3,064 cabin crew and executive cabin crew, 3,351 technicians or service engineers and 12,146 general category employees.


However, since 2009 over 600 employees of the national carrier have either resigned or taken voluntary retirement citing uncertain future and poor financial condition of Air India. Most of the pilots left the company in 2011, when they found their future ‘uncertain’ in Air India as it was facing a cash crunch and other human resources related issues after its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007.


Over the past three years, the state-run carrier has suffered losses of over Rs1,700 crore. While almost all foreign sectors were making losses for Air India, the highest loss-making routes were to the US and Canada and Europe.


Meanwhile, Air India is geared to receive its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is likely to arrive on Wednesday, reports PTI. The last hurdle in taking delivery of this plane has been cleared with the law and justice ministry giving its nod to the compensation settlement agreement which Air India would sign with the US plane-maker for the almost four-year delay in its deliveries.


A definitive delivery schedule would follow soon and it could involve the first few of these long-haul planes being delivered in seven to 10-day intervals, the sources suggested. With the first aircraft coming in now, Air India plans to take delivery of all 27 of them by 2016.


The induction of the plane would enable Air India mount several new international flights, including those it plans to launch for Melbourne and Sydney this winter.


The twin-aisle aircraft can typically carry between 210 and 250 passengers on routes of 14,200 km to 15,200 km distance, while using 20% less fuel than airplanes of a similar size. This is because of its lighter weight as it is made out of carbon composite material, instead of aluminium.


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