Just over a month after the Punjab and Haryana High Court sent alarm bells ringing among mobile service providers by staying the installation of towers atop residential buildings in the state of Punjab, it today ordered the setting up of a high-powered committee for detailed examination of the issue.
The Division Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh directed that the panel, comprising senior IAS officer KAP Sinha, IPS officer Parbodh Kumar and Punjab Legal Remembrance, would monitor all the activities pertaining to the erection of towers in Punjab during the petition’s pendency.
The panel was also directed to submit a status report, in sealed cover if required, by May last week. “The committee shall ensure that no activity which is violative of the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016, or instructions laid down (by the Punjab Government) there under is undertaken,” the Bench asserted.
The committee was also given the liberty to point out any deficiencies, which came to their notice and any suggestions for improvement/innovation required to be incorporated in the instructions. The Bench also directed keeping in abeyance the stay order dated March 3 till the next date of hearing.
The directions came after Punjab Additional Advocate-General Anu Chatrath did not express hesitation regarding the setting up of the high-powered committee for monitoring further erection of towers, laying down optical fibre on the buildings, checking violation of rules or haphazard manner of erection.
Referring to the application seeking vacation of stay, the Bench added it was required to be noticed that the prayer was neither opposed by the Centre or the state. Their only plea was that the applicant service provider should act within the four comers of the law, the 2016-Rules framed by the Government of India and instructions issued by the Government of Punjab.
Appearing for one of the parties, senior advocate Chetan Mittal during the course of hearing submitted that the importance of mobile phones had increased manifold following the Covid outbreak. Even schools and other institutions were functioning due to such connectivity.
Detailed study needed
The Bench asserted it felt that the matter required a detailed examination. The question whether alternative mode without using the buildings roofs, particularly residential in nature, was required to be answered.