A public interest litigation has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking inspection of the SEBI records permitting Bharti Infratel Ltd. to invite public offering for cell phone towers, allegedly without considering radiation norms.
A division bench of Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw last week agreed to hear the PIL and clubbed it with a similar petition pending before it.
The court would next hear the plea Jan 30, 2013.
The Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) grants permission to private companies for raising funds through public offerings in the capital markets in accordance with existing guidelines. However, the plea alleges that in this case, "SEBI has not strictly followed its own rules".
The approval by SEBI to the Bharti Infratel (BIL), the largest tower infrastructure provider in India for cell towers, would lead to serious health hazards in case radiation norms are not strictly complied with, the petitioner claimed.
The PIL, filed by one Niraj Kumar, has questioned "whether the market regulator SEBI could have permitted BIL to invite public offering for its cell phone tower installation business across the country without disclosing through self-certification before Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) that the existing towers were radiation norms-compliant and whether this disclosure was not a requirement under SEBI."
Kumar has claimed that the Draft Red Herring Prospectus and Red-Herring-Documents filed with Registrar of Companies(ROC) says that "currently the Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) radiation norms are applicable only to telecommunication service providers and do not apply to tower and related infrastructure."
"The petitioner felt that this statement was misleading and there ought to have been an assurance by the issuer that all cell phone towers are radiation compliant," said the petition.
BIL has "willfully" not disclosed how many towers under various circles have been self-certified and whether the tower radiation meets the requirements of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) norms, the PIL further stated.
"As of Sep 30, 2012, BIL owned and operated 34,220 towers in 11 telecommunications circles, while Indus Towers Ltd. (a joint venture company promoted by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular) operated 1,10,561 towers in 15 telecommunications circles," the petition said.
The plea also sought direction for BIL not to utilise public money raised through the IPOs in the business without there being any assurance that these towers were radiations-norms compliant.
Earlier on Dec 11, the high court had refused to stay the initial public offering (IPO) of BIL on a petition alleging that the foundation of the issue is fraudulent.
The court had asked the SEBI to present records relating to its approval to the company for launching the IPO.