Challenge to denial of security clearance by Home Ministry not maintainable before TDSAT

NEW DELHI: Can the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal examine denial of security clearance to multi system operators? Clearly, chairman justice Aftab Alam and member B B Srivastava have held that this falls outside the ambit of Section 14A of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act.

A petition by Positiv TV Pvt Ltd was dismissed by the tribunal as Information and Broadcasting ministry counsel Rajeev Sharma said permission to set up teleport (uplinking hub) at Guwahati and Noida had been refused because the Home ministry had refused to give security clearance as required under clause 9.2 read with clauses 10.4, 5.8 and 5.9 of the Guidelines for Grant of Permission dated 5 December 2011.

The I and B ministry had refused permission in a letter issued on 3 March.

The tribunal noted that the core question that arose for adjudication was not the cancellation of permission by the MIB but the decision of the MHA to not grant the security clearance to the petitioner.

Home ministry counsel Anshuman Upadhyay described as incorrect the statement by Positiv counsel Mukul Gupta that his client had not been informed about the Home ministry decision.

The tribunal said: “We are clearly of the view that the decision of the MHA to grant or not to grant security clearance to a telecom service provider does not come within the ambit of section 14 A and thus lies beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunal”. 

It therefore dismissed as not maintainable the petition, “without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case”.

However, the tribunal said it will be open to the petitioner to seek its remedies before an appropriate forum in accordance with law.

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