The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has directed Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications to pay Rs5 crore each as penalty to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for alleged violation of international long distance (ILD) licensing terms.
The TDSAT, in its interim order, directed the two telecom players to pay Rs5 crore each to the DoT within two weeks. This works out to just 10 per cent of the original penalty of Rs50 crore imposed by the department.
According to the government department, the two telecom firms had violated the terms and conditions of their ILD licence when they entered into separate agreements with Singtel, a Singapore-based operator, while offering long-distance communication services in 2007. The DoT claims that the agreements were illegal as SingTel did not have a licence to offer services in India.
SingTel is alleged to have used the leased lines from the two operators to resell bandwidth to its enterprise customers in India. The Singapore firm billed and collected revenues from its customers in India, even without having a licence, the DoT alleged.
Last month, DoT imposed the hefty Rs50-crore penalty on each of the two operators for not having detected the alleged misuse by SingTel. The DoT said that under the terms of its ILD licence, every operator has to check that its customers use the services for their bona fide use and in case of misuse, they should be able to detect it.
Bharti Airtel informed the DoT that the agreement with SingTel was not tantamount to reselling bandwidth and that it had paid fees on the revenues earned from providing the service to the Singapore firm.