The Supreme Court on Tuesday said any step taken by the Centre on regularisation of 2G spectrum licences for non-fulfilment of conditions or roll-out obligations would be subject to the final orders to be passed by the court on pending petitions.
A Bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly did not pass any interim order on the application filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) to restrain the Centre from regularising the licences after levying a penalty.
When counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, insisted that the court pass an interim order, Justice Ganguly said: “If licences are to be cancelled, it cannot be done only on the basis of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India. They have independent rights.”
Justice Singhvi said: “That [CAG report] will be a ground for cancellation. That will be considered at the time of final hearing of the petitions. We do not know what they [the Centre] are doing. But if they do, it is subject to the outcome of our order. Everything they do after the filing of the petition is subject to the final orders.”
Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati informed the court that notices had been issued to those who had not complied with the roll-out obligations. Further, since the issue of regularisation of licences was pending before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), he sought three weeks time to respond to the application.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, Soli Sorabjee, Abhishek Manu Singvi and others appearing for various telecom companies, which were issued notices, submitted that there were several errors in the CAG report and they would file their replies.
The court was hearing two petitions filed by the CPIL and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking cancellation of the 2G spectrum licences allotted during the tenure of Telecom Minister A. Raja on the ground that there were large-scale irregularities.
The CPIL said that according to the CAG report, 85 licensees out of 122 licences issued to 13 companies were found ineligible for grant of licence/2G spectrum and they had acquired it fraudulently.
When Dr. Swamy, whose main prayer was for a direction for fresh auctions, wanted the court to direct that all such and further adjudication by the government be not carried out except under its supervision, Justice Singhvi said all matters would be considered at the time of final hearing.