Etisalat DB Telecom's proposal for investment allowed despite MHA raising objections with Finance Minister

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Thursday contended in the Supreme Court that a new dimension to the 2G spectrum allocation, viz., security threat angle, should be considered by the court for cancellation of licence granted during the tenure of former Communications Minister A. Raja.

Making this submissions before a Bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly, he said, in particular, the Ministry of Home Affairs had raised its objection with the Finance Minister over the proposal of Etisalat DB Telecom for foreign investment from Etisalat, UAE, through its subsidiary Etisalat, Mauritius, citing security considerations due to the presence of the investment company in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Home Ministry further said that Shahid Usman Balwa should not be associated with the company either as Director or in any other capacity. Finally the Foreign Investment Promotion Board had rejected the proposal and despite this investment was allowed, he alleged.

Gross illegalities

Dr. Swamy also argued that advancement of the cut-off date by Mr. Raja was held illegal by the High Court and upheld by the Supreme Court and so the licences given stood automatically cancelled.

He said gross illegalities had been committed in pre-fixing a very low price and by the short-listing procedure of companies in the award of licences and spectrum, enabling several of the nine companies to earn huge windfall profits, as attested by their selling a large share of their equity to foreign companies.

The Bench was hearing petitions filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Dr. Swamy seeking cancellation of the spectrum licenses as they were issued in violation of the guidelines.

‘Give stern message'

Prashant Bhushan, advocate appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, submitted that a clear message should be sent by the court that no one could get away after manipulating the government policy particularly at a time “when scams are surfacing on a daily basis in the country.”

He said: “This country and its natural resources are not for loot and this message needs to be sent out to private companies and foreign investors. An impression has been created that the country is a banana republic and needs to be dispelled.”

Arguments will continue on Thursday.

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