India court halts airwave surcharge demand on Idea Cellular

MUMBAI Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:18am EST

MUMBAI Jan 24 (Reuters) - India's Bombay High Court has asked the government to not take any coercive action against Idea Cellular Ltd until March 1 on a demand to pay surcharges on airwaves, the mobile phone operator said on Thursday.

Idea, the country's No.3 mobile phone carrier by revenue, had appealed the order after the telecommunications ministry sent notices to carriers asking them to pay the surcharges.

The government is imposing the surcharges totalling more than $4 billion on long-established carriers including Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc's local unit, after an overhaul in the airwave sale process.

But carriers have challenged the move saying it violates the conditions of their licence agreements with the government. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)