New Delhi: The Delhi High Court would hear on January 30 a PIL seeking inspection of records of market regulator SEBI on permitting Bharti Infratel Ltd (BIL) to issue public offerings for its cell phone towers installations allegedly without considering the radiation norms compliance.
"We will hear it on January 30," a bench comprising chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said and decided to club the PIL with a similar plea on the issue. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) grants permission to private firms to raise funds through public offerings in the capital markets in accordance with existing guidelines.
The PIL, however, alleged that in the present case "SEBI has not strictly followed its own rules". The petition, filed by Niraj Kumar, alleged that SEBI's approval to BIL, the largest tower infrastructure provider in the country, for cell towers would lead to serious health hazard if the radiation norms are not strictly adhered to.
The PIL has questioned as to "whether the market regulator SEBI could have permitted BIL to invite public offering for its cell phone tower installation business across the country without disclosing through self certification before Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) that the existing towers were radiation norms compliant and whether this disclosure was not a requirement under SEBI."
The plea claimed that the Draft Red Herring Prospectus and Red-Herring-Documents- filed with ROC (Registrar of Companies) says that "currently the Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) radiation norms are applicable only to telecommunication service providers and do not apply to tower and related infrastructure.
"The PIL said the company ought to have given an assurance that all cell phone towers are radiation compliant. Earlier on Dec 11, the High Court had refused to stay the initial public offering (IPO) of BIL on another similar plea alleging that the foundation of the issue is fraudulent. The court had asked SEBI to present records relating to its approval to the company for launching the IPO.
BIL has 'wilfully' not disclosed how many towers under various circles have been self certified and whether the tower radiation is meeting the requirements of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) norms, the fresh plea alleged.
"As of September 30, 2012, BIL owned and operated 34,220 towers in 11 telecommunications circles while Indus Towers Ltd. (a joint venture company promoted by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular) operated 110,561 towers in 15 telecommunications circles," the petition said.
The plea also sought direction for BIL not to utilise the public money raised through the IPOs in the business without there being any assurance that these towers were radiations norm compliant.
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