SC slams centre over 2G auction

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) The government Monday came under fire for not complying with the Supreme Court's order to auction the entire spectrum that became available following the cancellation of 122 2G licences in 22 circles in February.

"We were very unfairly not informed by the concerned officer that the entire spectrum was not being auctioned," the court said, referring to the Nov 12 spectrum auction which evoked a poor response.

The court directed the telecom secretary to file an affidavit as to why there was no total compliance of its Feb 2 order, directing the allocation of spectrum in 2G band by way of auction.

The direction to the telecom secretary came after the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan rejected an affidavit filed on the issue by an under secretary.

Pulling up the central government, the court said: "They were expected to auction entire spectrum (which became available after the cancellation of 122 2G licences)."

Holding back of even 0.1 percent of spectrum was not acceptable, the court said.

"It is not fair for the officer not to report to the court the correct facts," the court said, observing that all through when extension of time was being sought that was under the impression that its order would be carried out in toto.

While refusing to accept the affidavit filed by the under secretary, department of telecommunications (DoT), the court recalled that on an earlier occasion it had rejected an affidavit filed by another officer and had sought an affidavit by the secretary, DoT.

The court Nov 9, while adjourning the hearing in the matter, said: "After hearing the submissions of the learned additional solicitor general in the light of the documents produced by him, we deem it proper to adjourn the case to Nov 19 so that he may seek instructions from the concerned authority and file an affidavit on the issue of total compliance of Para 81(iii) of judgment dated Feb 2."

Para 81(iii) of the Feb 2 verdict said: "Keeping in view the decision taken by the central government in 2011, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) shall make fresh recommendations for grant of licence and allocation of spectrum in 2G band in 22 service areas by auction, as was done for allocation of spectrum in 3G band."

Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that the entire process Nov 12 for auctioning 2G spectrum was designed in such a way that it was doomed to fail.

The court also asked the government to place before it the opinion rendered by Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati on the question of charge sheeting under the Prevention of Corruptions Act the companies and individuals who earlier got excess spectrum.