Govt to move Supreme Court for extension of auction deadline

Govt to move Supreme Court for extension of auction deadline New Delhi: The Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom on Tuesday decided to approach the Supreme Court to seek the extension of August 31 deadline to complete auction of 2G airwaves.

"Auctioneer has given us schedule...We will approach the Supreme Court to place before them the fact what government has done. Also, place before them that in terms of this schedule, it is not possible to conduct auction by August 31," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after EGoM meet.

After cancelling 122 telecom licences in February, the Supreme Court had asked the government to complete the 2G spectrum auction by August 31 and extended the validity of quashed licences till September 7.

The spectrum auction is crucial for companies such as Sistema Shyam, Uninor and Videocon to win the auction for being able to continue the operations.

Sibal said the government will file an interim application before the court and request it to consider the facts as stated in the application.

"As you know licences have been extended till September 7. So we will go back to the Supreme Court with interim application and request to consider the fact as stated in the application," Sibal said.

On Monday, the Department of Telecom had selected Times Internet Ltd (TIL) as auctioneer to operate the process.

The EGoM, headed by P Chidambaram, discussed the schedule which DoT has prepared in consultation with TIL.

The next step for DoT will be to issue Information Memorandum (IM) which is the final document that will carry complete details on auction of spectrum.

The government will need to complete 13 processes before the actual bidding for airwaves starts.

The steps include responding to queries of potential bidders, inviting applications and giving time to companies for submissions, finalising eligible bidders, public information sessions and mock auction.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has finalised Rs 14,000 crore as the minimum price for 5 Mhz spectrum in 1800 Mhz band, and Rs 18,200 crore for 5 Mhz in 800 Mhz band.

The base price approved by Cabinet was 22 per cent lower than Rs 18,000 crore minimum rate suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). It is, however, 7 times higher than the price new companies had paid in 2008 to get spectrum from the then Telecom Minister A Raja.

PTI