India's top court strikes down 122 2G mobile licenses

A report of India's auditor had alleged irregularities in the allotment of the mobile licenses in 2008

India's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that 122 mobile licenses awarded across 32 service areas in 2008 should be cancelled, giving a new dimension to investigations into alleged malpractices and corruption in the allotment of the 2G licenses.

The ruling will affect the Indian joint ventures of multinational companies including Telenor and Etisalat, which picked up stakes in Indian companies that were awarded the licenses.

"We have been unfairly treated as we simply followed the government process we were asked to," Telenor's joint venture in India said.

Irregular allocations of 2G licenses and spectrum to some Indian operators in 2008 may have cost the country US$39 billion, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) that was presented to India's parliament in 2010.

The 2G licenses were issued at 2001 prices without an auction even though other government agencies, such as the Ministry of Finance, had asked the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) to review the decision, the CAG said.

Some companies were also favored while awarding the licenses, even though the DOT had earlier said it would follow a “first come, first served” policy, it added.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating the scam. A. Raja, the country's minister of communications at the time of the controversial allotments, is in jail pending trial.

The decision by the court reflects its bid to bring some order and transparency into India's telecommunications industry which has seen a paralysis in decision making recently, said Kamlesh Bhatia, a principal research analyst at Gartner. There will in the short term be a consolidation and shakeout in the industry, he added.

The top players in India's mobile industry are however unlikely to be affected. Reliance Communications, India's second largest mobile operator, said in a statement that it received all its licenses before 2001, and was unaffected by the order of the Supreme Court. Most of the operators affected had delayed in the rollout of their services, and have a very small share of India's mobile subscribers. Uninor, Telenor's joint venture in India, had 36 million subscribers out of 894 million mobile subscribers in the country as on Dec. 31.

The Indian government will now have to auction the licenses and spectrum within four months.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?