Immediately after the verdict was given by TDSAT, a senior DoT official wrote to Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok seeking his opinion on the legal position with respect to applicability of the order of the tribunal. The two members of the tribunal bench differed with each other.
The split verdict came on a petition filed by mobile phone companies challenging a government order asking them to stop offering 3G services beyond their licensed circles or zones under mutual roaming agreements.
The two-member bench comprising Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Chairman Justice S B Sinha and Member P K Rastogi differed in their findings.
While Justice Sinha allowed operators' plea against the government's directive to stop intra circle 3G roaming saying it was violating natural justice, Justice Rastogi dismissed the petition saying they cannot provide roaming.
The Chairman was of view that DoT (Department of Telecom) had not followed the proper procedure and operators were not given proper time to put their views, but Rastogi dismissed the appeal saying that they can't provide 3G services by having mere 2G licence.
The spilt verdict left the Department of Telecom in a difficult position and it wanted to know the legal position in respect of implementation of 1:1 order of TDSAT.
The letter, written by Senior Deputy Director General (Access Services) A K Mittal, also asked the Additional Solicitor General that if the order of TDSAT was not applicable, could the DoT take action against the service providers and was it "necessary or advisable to issue fresh show cause notices?"
Several telecom companies including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele had filed petitions in the TDSAT challenging the December 23, 2011 directive of DoT to scrap their intra-circle roaming pacts within 24 hours.
Under the pact, telecom service providers had entered into mutual agreement with each other to facilitate roaming facilities without bringing in DoT in to the picture.
TDSAT has a sanctioned strength of three judges including the Chairman. However, due to retirement of its technical member, the tribunal now has two judges which led to the split verdict.
Immediately after the split verdict, the DoT also informed the Additional Solicitor General that caveats were being filed in the Supreme Court and Delhi HIgh Court on the issue.