2G: Angry exchange of words at Par panel meet

Congress and opposition members were grilling top telecom officials on the impact of the SC judgement cancelling 122 licences.

New Delhi: Angry exchange of words marked
the meeting of a Parliamentary panel looking into the 2G issue
when Congress and opposition members were grilling top telecom
officials on the impact of the Supreme Court judgement
cancelling 122 second generation radiowave licences.

Top Department of Telecom officials, including its
secretary R Chandrashekhar deposed before the Joint
Parliamentary Committee to explain the impact and implications
of the apex court judgements of February 2.

A war of words broke out between members of BJP and CPI,
and the Congress when the DoT officials were asked whether the
apex court had "quantified" the losses in its judgement.

Yashwant Sinha (BJP) and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) accused
Manish Tewari of undermining the judgement which had
criticised the first-come-first-served policy in distributing
2G licences.

Tewari asked Chandrashekhar as to whether the Supreme
Court has quantified the losses and whether the judgement has
"conclusively" said that exchequer incurred losses due to the

The DoT secretary is reported to have said that the
judgement had not mentioned losses.

When Tewari pointed that though the court had assailed
the policy, it had said nothing on losses, Dasgupta and Sinha
accused him of undermining an important judgement.

While questioning DoT officials, Dasgupta slammed the
government for going for a review of the judgements saying
when the policy has been held illegal, it should not be

He also said the apex court was well within its right in
questioning the policy decision.

On being asked by some members, DoT officials explained
that Presidential Reference was one of the options before the
government as several legal issues needed to be clarified.

The questioning of DoT officials was based on a
presentation they had made before the JPC last week in which
it said the Supreme Court`s 2G judgements saying it "travelled
beyond" the established limits of judicial review and entered
the exclusive domain of the executive when it held that the
policy of first-come-first-served was flawed.

The presentation contented that the apex court view on
the policy was flawed on the ground that the court disagreed
with the weight attached by the executive to the different
factors underlying the decision.

"The judgement, in respect of the policy, is directly
contrary to the settled law as laid down by the Supreme Court
that the essence of policy-making and governance is the
weighting and balancing of different values and
considerations, which is the role of the executive, and it is
not permissible for the court to take this exercise upon
itself and engage in policy making, both for the reason that
it is not its role to do so and does not have the expertise to
do so," the DoT said in the presentation.

The Committee was told that the judgement erred in
holding that the policy was "flawed" and "lopsided" on the
ground that in the view of the court, the considerations of
promoting the growth, affordability, penetration of wireless
services in semi-urban and rural areas, as well as maintaining
a level-playing field between the existing and new licences
for 2G spectrum, were outweighed by the considerations of
maximising short-term revenue for the state.


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