Tuesday, June 18, 2024

SC registry refuses to accept Centre’s plea on 2G spectrum verdict

supreme court

NEW DELHI, MAY 2: The Supreme Court Registry is learnt to have refused to accept the Centre’s plea seeking modification of its 2012 verdict in the 2G spectrum case which had said the State was duty bound to adopt the auction route while transferring or alienating the country’s natural resources.
Sources said the apex Court registry termed the plea of the Government as misconceived and an attempt to seek a review of the judgment in the guise of seeking clarification.
The Registrar refused to receive it as per the provisions of Order XV Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
“The Registrar may refuse to receive a petition on the ground that it discloses no reasonable cause or is frivolous or contains scandalous matter, but the petitioner may within 15 days of the making of such order, appeal by way of motion, from such refusal to the Court”, the SC rule reads.
As per it, the Centre may appeal against the order of the Registrar.
In its judgment delivered on February 2, 2012, the apex Court had quashed 2G spectrum licences given to various firms during the tenure of A Raja as the Telecom Minister in January 2008.
On April 22, Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, had mentioned the application before a Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala.
While seeking urgent listing of the application, the top law officer had told the Bench that the plea seeks modification of the 2012 verdict as the Centre wanted to grant 2G spectrum licences in some other cases also.
The Centre, in its plea, has sought exemption from auctioning the 2G spectrum for non-commercial purposes in discharge of sovereign functions of the state.
“Issue appropriate clarifications that the Government may consider the assignment of spectrum through administrative process if so determined through due process in accordance with law, and if such assignment is in pursuit of governmental functions, or public interest so requires, or auction may not be preferred due to technical or economic reasons”, it said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation which was one of the petitioners on whose plea the February 2012 verdict was delivered, opposed the application and said the issue has been well-settled by the apex Court in its judgment that auction is the only mode for granting licences for natural resources like spectrum, the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile phone industry for communication over the airwaves.
“We will see, you please move an email”, the CJI had told the Attorney General for India.
In its 2012 judgment, the apex Court had said, “When it comes to alienation of scarce natural resources like spectrum, etc, it is the burden of the State to ensure that a non-discriminatory method is adopted for distribution and alienation, which would necessarily result in protection of national/public interest.”
The top Court had said in its view, a duly publicised auction conducted fairly and impartially was perhaps the best method for discharging this burden.
“In other words, while transferring or alienating the natural resources, the State is duty bound to adopt the method of auction by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons can participate in the process”, it had said.
On March 22 this year, the Delhi High Court had admitted a CBI appeal against the acquittal of Raja and 16 others in the 2G spectrum allocation case, paving the way for hearing the matter 6 years after the plea was filed by the agency.
Admitting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s appeal, the High Court had said there were “some contradictions” in the trial court’s judgment which require “deeper examination”.
A special court had on December 21, 2017, acquitted Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the CBI and ED cases related to the 2G spectrum allocation.
On March 20, 2018, the CBI had approached the High Court, challenging the special court’s judgment.
The CBI had alleged there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the top Court on February 2, 2012. (PTI)