2G Spectrum auction will be subject to final verdict: SC

By: Gizbot Bureau

The Supreme Court today made it clear that the auction for 2G spectrum will go ahead according to the schedule from March 4 subject to the outcome of matter before it. "Let the auction go on and let us see what emerges from it," a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Adarsh Kumar Goel said, adding that it's outcome will not be finalised without the apex court's permission.

The bench, which declined to stay the auction process for 'some days', said no bidder, if successful, shall claim any equity in the bidding process. "There is prima facie inconsistency in the stand of the government but that is not a ground for staying it (the auction)," it said while posting the matter for further hearing on March 26. The Centre on January 9 had issued notice inviting applications for all the 17 circles.

2G Spectrum auction will be subject to final verdict: SC

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The issue of upcoming auction had first come to the apex court after the Centre had filed an appeal against the interim order of the Tripura High Court allowing telecom firms Bharti Hexacom Ltd and Reliance Telecom Ltd to submit two separate bids for a total of 8.8 MHz spectrum in the north-east circle. It had yesterday stayed proceedings before various High Courts and decided to hear on priority basis a batch of petitions raising various issues against the tender conditions for the auction of 2G spectrum.

The Centre today submitted that the existing telecom service providers, Dishnet and BSNL holding 4.4MHz of spectrum each in north-eastern states and whose licences were ending in 2017, could top it up by bidding for a minimum of 0.6 MHz to take it 5 MHz. Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Reliance Telecom, said his client will be in a position of disadvantage due to the auction norms and claimed that only one service provider Dishnet will be the beneficiary of this policy.

Chidambaram said that if Dishnet makes bid for 4 MHz Chidambaram said that if Dishnet makes bid for 4 MHz spectrum then both the existing service providers -- Reliance Telecom and Bharti Hexacon -– would be knocked out. The bench had yesterday transferred petitions filed by private telecom operators from High Courts of Allahabad, Karnataka and Delhi to the apex court.

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The Supreme Court had on February 17 said it would take a decision on the dispute between the government and private telecom operators on the issue of bidding of spectrum for the north-east circle, instead of leaving it to the Tripura High Court by staying all proceedings there. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had submitted that High Courts should not interfere in an "informed policy decision" on the auction of air waves having bearing on government revenues.

"If the auction of this nature which is going to fetch Rs one lakh crore to the government is going to be interfered by the High Courts then everything would come to a naught," he had said. Rohatgi had assailed the Tripura High Court order saying it would give rise to lot of petitions on the issue. Further, he had said the TRAI recommendations were not binding on the government and the Department of Telecom (DoT) could differ with them after they are examined by the DoT Committee and the Telecom Commission. The AG had said it was the same TRAI which had favoured auctioning a minimum of 5MHz of spectrum in 2012, 2013 and again in February 2014.

Source: PTI

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