SC puts spanner in the works: issues ‘stay order’ on Smart’s unified licence

17 Apr 2013

The government of Nepal’s plan to implement its much-heralded unified licensing regime descended into chaos yesterday, after the Supreme Court issued a ‘stay order’ blocking the award on Monday of a unified telecom licence to rural services provider Smart Telecom. Further, the same court issued an interim order to halt, with immediate effect, the implementation of the long-awaited ‘Radio Frequency Distribution and Pricing Policy 2012’, which is designed to allocate frequencies to telcos acquiring unified licences for a full range of telecom services – including mobile (cellular).

In its ruling, the country’s highest court said it had stayed the licence award decision in response to two writs filed against the move which argue that the current board of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) lacks the ‘legitimacy’ to do so. The argument rests on the fact that the regulator is still operating without a chairman – contrary to its constitution.