Kapil Sibal refutes charges of favouring Rcom

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Kapil Sibal
New Delhi, Jul 8: Dismissing allegations against him, Telecom Minister, Kapil Minister said that the Rs 5 crore penalty that was imposed on Reliance Communications for disrupting services was according to a agreement between a private operator and USO fund.

He called the charges levelled against him "malicious, motivated and defamatory" by an NGO in the Supreme Court in a Public interest litigation (PIL).

"I am deeply grieved by what is happening by the PIL filed by an NGO in the Supreme Court stating that Telecom Minister has abused his power to reduce penalty on Reliance Telecom to Rs 5 crore," said the minister and added that PILs should not be "used to settle personal score".

The Reliance Telecom services were turned off in Nov 2010 and a notice was isssued to the company for a whopping amount of Rs 5 crore for penalty.

"The notice for Rs 50 crore was to pressurise the Reliance Telecom.... They got worried," said Sibal adding that the company restored services on Feb 16, this year after paying a penalty of Rs 5.5 crore.

He also added that the penalty was accounted on the basis of how many days the company disrupted the services as it was written in an agreement between RCom and USO Fund.

Calling the whole incident "unfortunate", Sibal also said that the PILs were being misused and their sole purpose was to serve the public interest and "not to settle personal score".

An application against Sibal was filed in the Supreme Court by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) accusing the minister of favoring RCom and reducing the penalty from Rs 650 crore to Rs 5 crore.

"The Rs 5 crore penalty on the ADAG firm was as per the agreement between the USOF and Reliance Telecom. The DoT was nothing to do with the penalty as the company had not violated the rules of license conditions," Sibal said.

Sibal seemed ambiguous when asked on what basis the penalty Rs 50 crore was decided.

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