PM holds meet on 2G verdict, as issue takes diplomatic turn (Second Lead)

February 11th, 2012 - 7:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday held a crucial meeting on the 2G spectrum issue in the wake of the apex court cancelling 122 licences, and the matter taking a diplomatic turn with some of the countries having expressed concern over the future of investments by their countries’ companies here.

The meeting held at the Prime Minister’s official residence was attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal and Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati. The prime minister has sought Vahanvati’s opinion on the Supreme Court verdict.

“The purpose of this exercise was only to inform the prime minister and the group about the salient features of the judgment and its consequences and implications and the basis on which the judgment has been rendered,” Sibal told reporters after almost an hour long meeting.

“It was an exercise for informing the group. We were not required, nor did we seek any decisions from the prime minister or the group. That was not the intent of the exercise,” he added.

Norway has voiced its concern over investments of its telecom firm Telenor and even Russian Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev is expected to visit India shortly to take up the issue with the Indian government.

Oslo-based telecom firm Telenor, which operates under the brand name Uninor, stands to lose all its licences following the apex court’s order while Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd. (SSTL), a joint venture between Russia’s Sistema and India’s Shyam Group, loses 21 of its 22 licences.

Bahrain-based Batelco has already announced its exit from India, selling its stake in mobile firm STel.

STel, which had acquired licences to operate in six circles including Odisha, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh, is a joint venture between Batelco and Sky City Foundation, owned by former Aircel promoter and serial entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran.

The government has to complete the entire exercise of framing the guidelines for the auctioning of the cancelled 2G licences within four months given by the apex court.

The apex court verdict had held that the first-come-first-serve policy, pursued by then communications minister A.Raja, was flawed and had resulted in revenue loss to the state exchequer. The court favoured auctioning of the 2G licences.

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