New Delhi: The hearing on the 3G roaming controversy before the telecom tribunal TDSAT was on Thursday adjourned even as the Department of Telecom contended the delay was leading to the operators taking advantage of the interim order.
   
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal has now put the matter for next hearing on February 16.   

However, the TDSAT directed the five operators -- Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele - to file their replies over the plea of state-run firm BSNL to implead in 3G roaming controversy along with DoT.
   
The TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha also asked the DoT to file reply over the main petition within three weeks and operators to submit rejoinder over it.
   
Additional Solicitor General A S Chandiok representing DoT opposed the adjournment and said the interim protection to the operators cannot go on.
   
He further said TDSAT's interim order of December 24 directing the DoT not to take any coercive action against the operators should be embargoed. Chandiok also stressed that the operators should also not add new 3G customers.
   
However, the TDSAT Chairman said it could not modify its earlier order without hearing the both sides.
   
On the part of delay, the tribunal said it passed the December 24 order without giving a full hearing to DoT, but in "meanwhile, you (DoT) filed that we have no jurisdiction. So it is pending".
   
In this matter, on January 20, TDSAT had dismissed DoT plea challenging the former's jurisdiction to decide on 3G roaming dispute and held it has the power to decide on government's direction on 3G roaming agreements among operators.
   
DoT had questioned the jurisdiction of TDSAT saying the tribunal has no power to look into the licence terms and conditions entered among the operators and the DoT.
   
Passing an order on December 24, last year, the tribunal had directed the DoT not to take any coercive action against telecom operators.
    
A day prior to that, the DoT had asked five telecom operators to stop their inter-circle roaming on 3G bandwidth within 24 hours and it was challenged by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele before TDSAT.

(Agencies)