External affairs minister confident of resolving Sistema deadlock

24 Dec 2012

Newstrack India writes that in the run-up to today’s Indo-Russian summit, India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid announced that his office has outlined some ‘positive, significant steps’ regarding the future of Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL), whose threat to seek ‘billions of dollars’ in damages from the Indian government is likely to dominate talks. Sistema was one of the companies to have its licences cancelled by the Supreme Court in February this year, and has opted to pursue the matter in the courts, rather than close down as other operators have, or purchase spectrum to continue operations. However, Sistema’s appeal with the apex court has made little progress and the cellco has been ordered to cease offering services by 18 January 2013.

Commenting on the situation, Sistema’s chairman Vladimir Yevtushenkov noted that the Indian government’s handling of the situation has cast doubt on future foreign investment in the country’s telecoms sector. Local paper The Hindu quotes Yevtushenkov as saying: ‘Sistema has always maintained that the company has done no wrong. It believes that the Supreme Court, in its order dated 2 February 2012, didn’t consider several relevant submissions made by [SSTL], which were specific and unique to its case. We believe that we are being unfairly penalised for acting in good faith and in reliance on the appropriateness of the procedures established by India’s telecommunications authorities.’