NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) will decide whether lenders can sell spectrum rights of bankrupt telecom operator Aircel Group under the ongoing insolvency resolution process.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice S. Abdul Nazeer said the decision will be limited to Aircel, as the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has already approved UV Asset Reconstruction Co. Ltd’s resolution bid for the company. Two other bankrupt telcos—Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) and Videocon Telecommunications Ltd—are at different stages of the resolution process.

On 9 September, Aircel’s lenders had filed an application urging the apex court to modify its order that NCLT will look into the sale of spectrum held by bankrupt telcos. In its application, Aircel requested the court to allow NCLAT to take decisions related to spectrum sale as nothing was pending before NCLT. “We consider it appropriate that the aforesaid various questions should first be considered by the NCLT…Let the question be decided within the outer limits of two months,” the Supreme Court said in its 1 September order in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case. SC had allowed telecom operators Vodafone Idea Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd to pay their AGR dues in 10 years. However, the court did not decide whether spectrum could be sold under the insolvency process. While lenders argued that spectrum was an asset and an important part of the insolvency resolution process to recover dues, the DoT countered that it could not be sold as it was national property.

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