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India top court allows more time for revoked cellular permits

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court allowed on Monday mobile phone carriers, whose permits were due to be revoked this week as per an earlier court order, to continue services until it hears the case next on February 4, a lawyer on the case said.

India's telecommunications ministry had argued before the court that allowing the carriers to operate until the next airwave auction, due in March, will help generate more interest in the auction after the government failed to sell all available spectrum in an auction last November.

Monday's court order will help Russian conglomerate Sistema's Indian unit to continue operations beyond a January 18 deadline in the 21 services areas where its permits are to be revoked. It would also allow Telenor's Indian unit to continue services in Mumbai.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Jijo Jacob)