Supreme Court had rapped Centre for not auctioning scarce natural resources such as spectrum
The Union Cabinet on Saturday failed to take any decision on a proposal to make a Presidential reference on the Supreme Court's order regarding cancellation of 122 telecom licences that criticised the Centre's policy of not auctioning scarce natural resources such as spectrum.
The Cabinet that discussed the issue decided to first take the opinion of the Solicitor-General before taking any decision. The Solicitor-General is likely to present his views before the Cabinet next week, government sources said. Before this, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had opted for the Presidential reference on the river water-sharing dispute between Haryana and Punjab in 2004.
In its landmark judgment on the 2G spectrum issue in February this year, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre's policy of giving away natural resources such as spectrum and minerals without holding auction or following market-driven mechanisms. The apex court had found serious flaws in the allocation of scarce spectrum to telecom companies at throwaway prices by following the first come, first served (FCFS) policy.
The sources said the Centre was considering seeking the Presidential reference in a bid to get some clarity on the Supreme Court's verdict. The reference would be sought under Article 143 of the Constitution as per which the President could seek clarification from the Supreme Court on its judgments on issues of public interest. The clarity on the issue would help the government chalk out its future course of action on allocation of natural resources by not getting stuck in any kind of legal tangles.
Notably, on March 2, 2012, the government already filed the review petition in the apex court questioning its verdict holding as unconstitutional the FCFS policy in allocation of 2G spectrum. The government has said the Supreme Court has entered into the exclusive domain of the executive and gone beyond the limits of judicial review. The Centre also pointed out that allocation of all natural resources through the auction route was contrary to the principle of separation of powers embodied in the Constitution.