Telecom Ministry Seeks Legal Opinion on CAG 'Undue Benefits' Findings

Telecom Ministry Seeks Legal Opinion on CAG 'Undue Benefits' Findings

The Telecom Ministry has sought legal opinion on a CAG report that stated undue benefits were extended to companies including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, RCom and Tata Teleservices on a number of issues.

According to a source: "The Ministry has sought legal opinion on the matter so as to undertake further course of action."

Taking note of CAG's findings, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked the ministry officials to seek legal opinion, sources said.

Raising concerns over various policy issues in the telecom sector, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has recently flagged financial gaps to the tune of over Rs. 31,000 crores including towards non-imposition of fines and the undue gains to private operators.

Reliance Jio Infocomm got undue benefit of Rs. 3,367.29 crores after the Department of Telecom (DoT) allowed it to provide voice calling facility under the new licensing regime, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said in its report.

Whereas Bharti Airtel made an undue gain of Rs. 499 crores because of DoT's decision to merge Chennai telecom circle with Tamil Nadu in a hasty manner in 2005, the government auditor said.

Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices got undue benefit to the extent of Rs. 882.06 crores (2009-10 to 2013-14) after the DoT granted telecom licences for dual technology in October 2007/January 2008, the CAG said.

The companies concerned had maintained that there was no wrong doing on their part

The CAG had also said the DoT allowed operators to enter into mutual commercial agreements for intra-service area roaming in 2008 resulting in adverse financial impact on revenues.

The auditor had also highlighted undue favour to CDMA operators when the DoT decided not to auction 800MHz spectrum for enhanced voice data optimised (EVDO) services in 2010 though they were providing 3G EVDO services with the available 2G spectrum (800 MHz) without liberalisation of spectrum.

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