Free Press Journal

Harshvardhan could have taken legal action on penalty: Sibal


New Delhi: Refuting allegations levelled by BJP leader Harshvardhan of favouring Reliance Communications in reducing penalty on the company, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal questioned his motive for not taking any legal action at that time and making charges now.

“He is not aware of law and lacks civilised political discourse. He is entitled to take legal recourse but he didn’t do it at that time. Why? He is now frustrated at the last moment and trying to divert attention of people from real issues,” Sibal told PTI.

Harshvardhan is contesting against the two-term Member of Parliament Sibal from Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi in the 9-phase general elections starting next week.

The BJP leader had alleged that Sibal had favoured RCom by reducing penalty on the company from Rs 650 crore to about Rs 5 crore.

The matter relates to the issue of RCom switching off its mobile towers in some rural areas across 13 service areas of the country in November 2010 and restored them only on February 16, 2011.

Under licensing norms, the maximum penalty proposed by a Department of Telecom panel worked out to be Rs 650 crore. The penalty, however, was slapped as the agreement between the USOF and RCom, under which the company paid Rs 5.5 crore

Sibal had earlier said that penalty was imposed based on the company’s agreement with Universal Services Obligation Fund which had sponsored the project.

Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati also endorsed Sibal’s stance which was later upheld by a tribunal headed by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice AR Lakshmanan.

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