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2G scam: `No need for SC to opine on presidential reference`

The Supreme Court is scheduled to give its advisory opinion on the presidential reference initiated by Centre.

Updated: Sep 27, 2012, 12:24 PM IST

New Delhi: On a day the Supreme Court is scheduled to give its advisory opinion on the presidential reference initiated by Centre in connection with the allocation of natural resources, key petitioner and Janata Dal president Subramanian Swamy said there is no need for the apex court to deliver such an opinion, as the government has already accepted its recommendations.

Interacting with media here ahead of the SC hearing, Swamy said that since the Centre has already accepted the principle, a fact corroborated by the Prime Minister himself, the need for an advisory opinion did not arise.

He added that the Constitution of 12-member secretaries’ committee by the Centre indicated that they comply with SC’s principle.

“The government went in a presidential reference asking the Supreme Court that if this judgment should be interpreted as applying to everything (all natural resources). I have argued that the government has already accepted this principle, because they have formed a 12-member Secretaries’ committee that concluded that they should auction. The Prime Minister said we have accepted the recommendations. There were 81 recommendations, of which they have accepted 69, 11 they are considering that have nothing to do with auction. So I argued in the Court that there is no need for the Supreme Court to give its
opinion,” he said.

“The Supreme Court today will first decide whether to give an opinion, secondly whether to give a unanimous opinion because since they have listed two judges, there appears to be a difference among the judges, and they will finally pronounce whether auction in present circumstances is desirable,” he added.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia and comprising of Justices DK Jain, JS Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi will today also decide whether the reference is maintainable or not, as it was alleged that the government tried to overrule the 2G verdict through the route of reference.

The government had on April 12 moved the reference signed by the then president Pratibha Patil in which eight questions have been raised, including whether there could be judicial interference in policy matters, vis-à-vis disposal of natural resources and investments made by foreign investors under multi and bilateral agreements.

"Whether the judgment lays down that the permissible method for disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances is by the conduct of auction," the Reference has stated.

"Whether the court holds that within the permissible scope of judicial review that the policy is flawed, is the court not obliged to take into account investment made under the said policy including the investment made by foreign investors under the multi and bilateral agreements," it said.

It sought the court’s opinion on "whether the judgment is required to be given retrospective effect so as to unsettle the licenses issued for 2G spectrum and allocated after 1994 till 2008."

The reference also touched upon the 3G spectrum allocated through "auction" and wanted to know the implications of the judgment on it.

"Whether 3G spectrum acquired through the auction in 2010 by entities whose (2G) licenses have been quashed in the judgment stands withdrawn," it asked.

A meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had on April 10 cleared the Telecom Ministry’s proposal to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on various issues arising out of the February 02 judgment.

The two-judge bench, in its verdict, had also observed that auction was best suited route for allocating natural resources like telecom spectrum because the policy of first-come-first-serve was flawed.

The bench had on May 11 issued notices to the state governments and industrial chambers FICCI and CII and sought their responses on behalf of the private industries.

The court had also issued notices to the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on whose petitions a bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly (since retired) had delivered a judgment on February 02, cancelling all 122 telecom licenses by holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional.

The bench headed by Justice Singhvi had held that all natural resources should be allocated through auction.