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2G: Supreme Court to begin hearing on government’s Presidential Reference from July 1

Gagan

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While issuing notices to the state governments and industrial chambers FICCI and CII seeking their responses, the Supreme Court on Friday said that it would begin hearing from July 10 on Presidential Reference moved by the government on issues arising out of the cancellation of 122 spectrum licences on February 2 this year.

The controversial issue that emerged following the apex court verdict is whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory.

The government has also sought SC’s opinion on retrospective effect for radio waves granted since 1994.

The court also issued notices to the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy on whose petitions a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly (since retired) had delivered a judgement on February 2 cancelling 122 telecom licences by holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional.

The Constitution Bench comprising justices D K Jain, J S Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi said that for expeditious hearing of the matter, statements of fact and arguments shall be filed by the parties in the court within three weeks.

The government had on April 12 had filed the Presidential reference on 2G spectrum issue in the Supreme Court.

The purpose of this whole exercise is to seek clarification whether in the light of the apex court judgment it becomes mandatory for all the sectors to auction natural resources.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the Telecom Ministry's proposal to seek Supreme Court's opinion on various issues arising out the apex court verdict.

In its February 2 judgment the Supreme Court had also directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to start the process of 2G auction as in its view the licences issued in 2008 during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja were rigged.

The government is of the views that the judgement might have its impact on other sectors which also depend on first come first serve policy for allocation of natural resources. So, it went for the Presidential reference.

The Supreme has already rejected review petitions filed by the telcos in the 2G case. However, the review petition of the central government had been separated from the others.

The government has sought SC’s opinion on whether the judgement lays down that the permissible method for disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances is by the conduct of auction. The Reference has stated.

“Whether the court holds that within the permissible scope of judicial review that the policy is flawed, is the court not obliged to take into account investment made under the said policy including the investment made by foreign investors under the multi and bilateral agreements,” the Reference has stated.

It sought the court’s opinion on “whether the judgement is required to be given retrospective effect so as to unsettle the licences issued for 2G spectrum and allocated after 1994 till 2008.”

“Whether 3G spectrum acquired through the auction in 2010 by entities whose (2G) licences have been quashed in the judgement stands withdrawn,” it asked.

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