Magnitude of damage projected by Reliance Jio ‘highly exaggerated’: Punjab Police to HC

Responding to Reliance Jio’s petition seeking directions to the Punjab government to take action against those who damaged its network infrastructure, affiliated centres and stores, the state police has submitted in Punjab and Haryana High Court that the magnitude of damage projected by the telecommunications company is “highly exaggerated”.

It also submitted that “there is no threat to any infrastructure or business of the company”.

The reply has been filed through an affidavit by A K Pandey, IGP law and order, Punjab. The affidavit was submitted before the bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal. The matter is now scheduled for hearing on June 28.

In its reply, the police stated, “Normalcy has been restored in the state of Punjab, and there is no threat to any infrastructure or business of the petitioner and/or its affiliates. Therefore the present the present petition is liable to dismissed on this ground alone.”

“It has been reported that there are 21,306 mobile phone/telecommunication towers in the state of Punjab, out of which 4,850 mobile phones tower belong to the petitioner company. The antennae of the petitioner company are mounted on another 4,050 mobile phone towers, which otherwise belong to other telecommunication companies. Thus, a total of 8,900 mobile phone towers, operations at 803 mobile phone towers of the petitioner company were disrupted by miscreants, which impacted functioning of another 688 mobile phone towers in the close loops/circular rings. Thus, functioning of 1,491 mobile phone towers of the petitioner company was disrupted for small duration of time. At present, 13 sites remain disrupted on account of various reasons including delays at attributable to the petitioner,” the reply mentioned.

“The police has carried out its duties in an efficient and unbiased manner and had ensured timely action wherever complaints/representations about damage to mobile towers or disruption of mobile connectivity or any such threat of damage/disruption were received from any of the telecommunications companies having operations in the State of Punjab. Immediate action by the police led to registration of 12 criminal cases (FIRs) and 273 Daily Diary Register Entries (DDRs) in Punjab,” read the affidavit submitted in High Court.

Punjab Police further said that the magnitude of damage/disruption projected in the petition is “highly exaggerated” and “amounts to misleading the court”. The petitioner has not only exaggerated its claims, it has withheld information from this court, it said.

“It has been reported that as on date, all mobile phone towers have been made operations except a few sites which are non-functional due to reasons other than damage or disruption caused by miscreants,” read the reply.

It has been stated that the Punjab DGP has directed all field units to intensify patrolling in and around the areas where mobile towers are located so as to discourage any miscreant from indulging in any mischief/nuisance of such like activity which may cause any destruction or damage.

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The reply read, “The petitioner has tried to project itself to be a ‘victim’ without specifying the reasons and the manner in which it has been victimised. The petitioner is relying upon reports in media/social media posts which have no evidentiary value.”

The Punjab DGP has submitted that the petitioner has not named the “vested interests” operating against the petitioner. The assertions of losses to the tune of hundreds of crores are “exaggerations on the part of petitioner, without any supportive evidence and need to be out rightly rejected by the court”, he submitted.

“Complete normalcy has been restored throughout the state. Damage, if any, caused to the infrastructure of the petitioner company is by unknown miscreants who are yet to be identified as twelve (12) criminal cases are under investigation with state police.”

Reliance Jio, which has moved High Court through its counsel, senior advocate Ashok Aggarwal and advocate Aashish Chopra, had submitted that the purpose of enacting the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, 2014 was to prevent damage to public and private property. However, no mechanism is provided in the said Act for preventing the damage, it said.

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