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News |  15 Sep 2009 16:37 |  By BhushanNagpal

Govt directed to refund license fee to four FM bidders

NEW DELHI: Four successful bidders for FM radio channels won a legal battle 10 years after they had paid the licence fee of Rs 280 million which was forfeited by the government.

The Delhi High Court has directed the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to refund to refund Rs 70 million to each bidder within the next four weeks.

A bench comprising Justices A P Shah and Manmohan said there was no clause in the agreement under which the government could forfeit the advance licence fee.

The petitioners - New Media Broadcasting Pvt Ltd, Hind Broadcaster, Vertex Broadcaster and Dream Radio – had alleged in their petitions that despite having paid the bidding amount of Rs 70 million, the ministry changed the conditions of the draft license agreement.

They complained that when they refused to accept the conditions, their earnest money and 50 per cent of the Reserved Licence Fee (RLF) was forfeited.

Challenging the decision of the Ministry, the petitioners contended that the deviations made by the Ministry in their offer were arbitrary, unilateral and illegal. These were in any case contradictory to the conditions placed before them when they applied, they contended.

The new conditions were imposed upon them after being successfully selected in the bid and, according to the lawyers for the petitioners C A Sundaram and Maninder Singh. �Therefore, holding our petitioners' money for such a long period is totally illegal,' Singh added.