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

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?