SC criticises ‘casual’ govt approach to 2G auction

FP

The Supreme Court Monday criticised the Centre's decision to not auction the entire 2G spectrum cancelled by it in February and accused the government of adopting a "casual" approach. "Withholding of even 0.1 per cent of spectrum will not be acceptable," the court said.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan also refused to take on record an affidavit filed by a junior official. "Under secretary of the government is not authorised to swear such affidavits since only an officer of secretary-level rank and above can take decisions in such matters. This is a deliberate attempt by the Department of Telecom since we have already rejected such affidavits in the past. This case is very serious and while the court is taking this matter with seriousness, such affidavits are being filed," the bench said.

It gave the Centre two days to file a fresh affidavit explaining why the entire 2G spectrum was not auctioned. The bench also questioned why some aspects of the government's decisions on keeping certain frequencies reserved, non-availability of a frequency band etc., had not been brought to its knowledge even though it was monitoring the case.

The court was apprised that while 900 MHz telecom spectrum was not available for auction, the entire block of 1,800 MHz spectrum cancelled by the court was not auctioned either as recommended by TRAI.

"At no point of time the court was informed that auction was going to be only for 800 and 1,800 MHz spectrum... government is very casual in dealing with this matter...We will have to consider withholding of spectrum and other related issues, especially in the light of the averment that even the entire 1800 MHz spectrum was not auctioned. We will say that withholding of even 0.1 per cent of spectrum will not be acceptable. They were required to auction the entire spectrum," the bench said.

... contd.

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