Supreme Court on 11 April 2013 restrained Bharti Airtel from providing 3G roaming services to new customers in non-licensed seven circles. The seven circles where Airtel does not have license to provide 3G services are Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana , Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh East and Kolkata.
A Supreme Court bench including Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramajit Sen issued notices to the Union government and Reliance Communications Ltd and sought their response within two weeks on the petition filed by Bharti Airtel which challenged a Delhi High Court order. The order had approved DoT’s decision to hold the 3G roaming pact of the applicant as illegal.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had issued a notification on 15 March 2013 which restrained Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum. It also imposed penalty of 350 crore rupees for the alleged violation of the licence terms and conditions. A single-judge bench of the high court on 18 March 2013 had put stay order on the operation of the notification.
However, later on a division bench of the high court on 4 April 2013 had set aside the single judge’s order. The Bharti Airtel challenged the decision of the division bench of the high court.