Press Trust of india

2G spectrum: Centre moves SC seeking modification of 2012 verdict

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New Delhi: More than 12 years after it was delivered, the Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its verdict in the 2G spectrum case which said the State was duty bound to adopt the auction route while transferring or alienating the country’s natural resources.

In its judgement 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 Monday, Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, mentioned an interim application before a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice J B Pardiwala.

While seeking urgent listing of the application, the top law officer told the bench that the plea seeks modification of the 2012 verdict as the Centre wanted to grant 2G spectrum licences in some cases.

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 judgement 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 e-mail,” the CJI told Venkataramani.

In its 2012 judgement, 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 six 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.

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