SC extends time for fresh 2G auctions to Aug 31
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant 400 days to the government to complete the process of fresh auctioning of the 2G spectrum licences but extended the deadline for it from June 2 to August 31, 2012.
A bench of justices G S Singvhi and K S Radhakrishnan also said the existing licences for 2G spectrum will continue to be operational till September 7, 2012.
"In our view, it will be just and proper to partially accept the averments made in the application (by the Centre).
"Accordingly, the time specified for conducting the auction and grant of licences is extended upto August 31, 2012," said the bench.
The bench also said its February 2 order cancelling 122 licences, allocated during the tenure of A Raja, will remain operational.
The bench made it clear that it was not going to accept the Centre's prayer for allowing it 400 days to complete the process of auctioning radio waves.
The bench was hearing the Centre's application, seeking clarification of its direction in the February 2, 2012 judgement which had fixed June 2 as the deadline, when the 122 2G spectrum licenses, issued in 2008, would stand quashed.
The court had asked the Centre to complete the process of fresh actioning by June 2.
During the hearing, Attorney General G E Vahanvati tried to explain the practical difficulties and implication of the apex court order, which had asked the government to complete the entire exercise of fresh auctioning by June 2.
Vahanvati also appraised the bench about the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) recommendation which were announced yesterday.
On Vahanvati's submissions, the court remarked, "You ask for 400 days. That is your prayer. How much time did you take to complete the process in 2008?"
"The entire exercise could have been avoided if little more effort would have been made," the bench said.
"We are still not in a position to believe that your officers were so naive that they don't understand the difference," the bench said referring to the calculation made by the Department of Telecom (DoT) in grant of the spectrum for 4.4 MHz and 6.2 MHz.
"We are not going to accept the prayer for 400 days," the bench said adding "government was alive and aware that something wrong has gone and petition was filed in 2010."
Before passing the order the bench said, it was extending the time because technically it was not possible to analyse the auction by June 1.
The Centre had on March 1 moved the apex court stating that it will impact over 69 million mobile users as the auction process for radiowaves will take at least 400 days.
In its application for clarification of the apex court's February 2 verdict, which had quashed the 122 2G licenses allocated during the tenure of A Raja, the Telecom Ministry had also sought extension of time for cancellation of licenses.
"As the licenses / spectrum can be issued only in and around March 2013 and the licenses (would) stand quashed with effect from June 2, 2012, there will be an inevitable disruption in services for the subscribers of those license holders whose licenses (would) stand quashed by virtue of the judgement of this court.
"It is respectfully stated that the total number of subscribers indirectly affected by the judgement of this court is over 69 million, representing almost 7.5 percent of the total mobile subscribers in India," the government had stated in its application.
The Centre had informed the court that the auction process has commenced but it would take around 400 days for it to be completed.