The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) challenging Rajasthan government’s May 9 order asking telecom operators to decommission their cell towers located within 500 metres of jails in the state. Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Long-term Review
The vacation bench of Justice L.Nageswara Rao and Justice Navin Sinha directed the listing of the matter for hearing on May 29, after senior counsel Gopal Jain mentioned the matter for an early hearing, saying that the implementation of the May 9 order would adversely impact the operations of service providers and the mobile phone users. The Rajasthan government had given service providers 30 days time to remove their towers, a period ending in early June. The order came in pursuance to Rajasthan High Court’s April 6 order directing the removal of towers falling within 500 metres of jail premises.
The COAI has said that the high court, when it passed its order, was not told that August 31, 2012 policy which barred installation of cell towers within 500 metres of jail premises has been superseded by February 6, 2017 policy. This policy of the State government permitted setting-up cell towers not only within 500 metres of jail premises but also on public, private locations including roads, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, schools, government-owned or controlled buildings and lands under cultivation.
However, the policy also said that the “permission for setting up cell towers shall not be given in the areas/premises restricted for the purposes, under the orders of the competent court” with this condition included through an amendment made on February 9. ALSO READ: Over 2 lakh mobile towers installed in past 9 months: Manoj Sinha
Seeking to put on hold the May 9 Rajasthan government order, the COAI have sought direction that service provider may not asked to remove the towers, nor would the government take steps to seal them or take any coercive steps against the cellular service providers. It said that the order would impact 80 lakh subscribers as thje entire exercise would involve removal of 400 Base Transceiver Towers (BTSs) including Base Station Controllers sites which are further catering to 2,500 BTSs.