“We have no doubt about the correctness of the verdict on the spectrum (2G) but if the judgement is extended to cover other natural resources don’t you think there is a doubt over interpretation of law in the judgement and are we not entitled to go into the Presidential Reference?”
Precisely the point.
The issue is not one of allocation of Natural Resources per se , on first come, first served, but the issue of swindling the exchequer,underselling,favouring a few by placing impossible conditions to Bidders in terms of time frame to remit EMD,,keeping GOM out of the orbit,receiving kick backs from the companies etc.
The Government is deliberately side tracking the issue by calling in the Natural Resources tune.
The Government’s arguments runs on the line that the first come, first served was followed to facilitate the market and is for the improvement of Telecommunication.
The 2G judgement did not say anything on this.
It found the allocation of the 2G Licences as arbitrary and seem to have been taken to enrich a few.
That is the point.
The Supreme Court may bear in mind the tactic of the Government to escalate this issue by making this out as’ Executive Vs Judiciary’ by bringing in irrelevant arguments or as Perry Mason would say ‘immaterial, irrelevant’
“ The Supreme Court was today told that under the garb of “malafide” Presidential Reference, the Centre was “questioning the correctness” of its 2G spectrum case verdict that natural resources in all sectors should be allocated through auction.
The NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation ( CPIL), said the apex court should refuse to answer the questions raised in the Reference which was “not maintainable” as the February 2 judgement for the 2G spectrum attained finality and the review filed against it was subsequently withdrawn by the government.
“Under the garb of the Presidential Reference, you (government) are seeking to question the correctness of the judgement and seeking to overrule the judgement which has reached its finality,” senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the NGO, told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia.
However, the bench clarified that it was not on the question of correctness of the judgement and repeatedly said it wanted to know whether it was entitled to entertain the Reference or not if there was any doubt over “interpretation” of law in the judgement.
“We have no doubt about the correctness of the verdict on the spectrum (2G) but if the judgement is extended to cover other natural resources don’t you think there is a doubt over interpretation of law in the judgement and are we not entitled to go into the Presidential Reference?” said the Bench, also comprising justices D K Jain, J S Khehar, Dipak Mishra and Ranjan Gogai.
The bench also wanted to know if it was not entitled to answer to the President those aspects of natural resources which have not been dealt with in the judgement and could be allocated in future like pricing of oil and gas.”
“ Former Telecom Secretary Siddarth Behura, a key accused in the 2G scam, today told the JPC that he had found advancing the cut-off date to grant licenses as unusual and had raised the issue with the then Telecom Minister A Raja.
Behura, who appeared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the 2G issue, told the panel that he had found the decision to change the cut-off date from October 30, 2007 to September 25, 2007 taken before he joined the department, as unusual and had taken it up with Raja.
He is also learnt to have told the Committee that major decisions like revision in cut-off date, acceptance of the TRAI recommendations by the Telecom Commission and re-interpretation of the first come first serve policy took place before he took up the postin 2008.
Behura, who is out on bail, said that during his meetings with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary he got the impression that the 2G license issue had been settled.
He is also learnt to have said that no major policy decisions were taken during his tenure.
Behura was the Telecom Secretary between January 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009. He had appeared before the Public Accounts Committee examining the CAG report on 2G on December 7, 2010.
The JPC had decided to summon Behura and Raja on March 21. It is yet to decide on Raja’s appearance to give oral evidence.
Behura was arrested on February 2 last year by CBI along with Raja and his personal secretary R K Chandolia on charges of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct.