Sindh High Court restrains issuance of LDI licenses
The Sindh High Court (SHC) restrained the federal government from issuing Long Distance and International (LDI) licenses under the obsolete telecom policy till further orders.
Justice Nadeem Akhtar, who headed the bench, passed the stay order on a private telephone operator’s petition challenging the notification issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for issuing LDI licenses under the expired policy.
The petitioners, Telecard Limited Redtone Telecommunications and Multinet Pakistan, filed plea against Ministry of Information Technology secretary and the PTA, saying the PTA, in July 2003, introduced a deregulation policy for the telecommunication sector whereby it established two categories of basic services licenses;
- Local loop (LL) for fixed line telecommunication within the 14 PTCL regions
- Long Distance and International (LDI) for connectivity between regions.
According to the petitioners, the LDI licenses telecom policy 2003 stated that anybody who met the licensing requirements would be eligible on payment of the prescribed fee of $500,000 for LDI to ensure serious bidders entering the market on the basis of technical and financial capabilities, whereas experience will be incorporated in the licensing documents.
As per telecom policy, LDI licenses were valid for a period of five years and subject to review after the period of licenses expired. Petitioners confirmed the bench that the 2003 policy expired in 2008 after which no policy for LDI was introduced.
The ministry of information and technology was going to issue LDI licenses under the expired policy as it has issued a notification in this regard on November 12, 2013. LDI licenses would be issued under the old policy and on payment of a fee amounting to $500,000 which was payable 10 years ago by LDI license operators.
The court was pleaded to declare the notification illegal and direct respondents to formulate new deregulating policy for telecom sector. The bench restrained the federal government from issuing LDI licenses under the old telecom policy as well as issued notice to respondents to file their comments by December 17.