3G/4G auction challenged in ICH

ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )

Last month’s auction of the 3G and 4G licenses was challenged in the Islamabad High Court in a petition submitted by a citizen which contended that the bidding process was not carried out in a transparent manner and was conducted in violation of the code and conduct which caused a huge loss to the national exchequer.

The petition, Mohammad Akram Sajjad against the all mobile operators and the PTA, seeks to halt the 3G and 4G services offered by the mobile operators and also requested for a re-auction of the licenses.

A petitioner, Ch Muhammad Akram Sajid, through his counsel Raja Muqsit Nawaz, filed a petition before the IHC, challenging the public auction of 3G and 4G spectrum while contending that the auction was made in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

The petitioner alleged that the Federal Government has auctioned 3G and 4G licences at low price, giving huge loss to the national exchequer. He nominated Federation of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Information, Technology; Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), M/s Pakistan Mobile Communication Limited (Mobilink), M/s Telenor, Pakistan, M/s Pakistan Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone), M/s CMPak Limited (ZONG) and M/s Warid Telecom as respondents.

The petitioner adopted that the auction was made without lawful authority, therefore, to be declared void, illegal and without legal effect.The PTA initiated the process of 3G/4G licence and published the final information memorandum on March 17, 2014.

The PTA chairman violated provisions of the information memorandum, Pepra laws and mala fidely colluded with existing telecom operators (bidders) to artificially reduce the 3G/4G spectrum price and caused major loss to national exchequer and auctioned this valuable national asset at very low price.

The under-valuation is also evident from the value at which India has recently auctioned 3G spectrum. Indian has sold this spectrum for $22 billion compared to less than $1 billion by Pakistan. Indian mobile market is 5-6 times of our market and their annual average revenue per user (ARPU) is only 20% higher than Pakistan. But PTA has auctioned 3G spectrum at 22 times less price compared to Indian auction, the petitioner said.

Petitioner contended that there are rumours that Warid was purposely kept out of the bidding process, but even then the said telecom company is going to launch 4G service. As it was confirmed from the recent text messages by Warid to its customers that it will soon be launching 4G services, the petitioner contended that since Warid had not participated in the bidding process, they should not be allowed to use and/or award of 3G/4G spectrum.

The petitioner contended that the entire auction process, including fixing the reserve price and last minute before auction change in number of 3G spectrum lots available was dominated by personal interest, mischief, corruption, non-transparent and collusion.

The respondents had acted in excess of their jurisdiction in violation of the principles, fair play and transparency. There was error apparent and such excess of jurisdiction had resulted in manifest injustice to the people at large throughout Pakistan and heavy loss to the national/public exchequer, petitioner said.

The petitioner prayed to the court to declare the bidding process as illegal and unlawful.He further prayed that till adjudication of this matter the telecom operating companies be restrained from using the 3G/4G spectrum as is being done even before the issuance of licenses. Petitioner also prayed that Warid may not be allowed to launch 4G service as it had not participated in the bidding process.

The hearing over the petition would be held tomorrow.

 

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