“In the absence of time, objective of allocating spectrum at market prices may not be fully achieved”

The Centre on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of time till November 12 for commencing auction to allocate 2G spectrum licences.

While quashing 123 licences, the court in February gave the government four months’ time for conducting a fresh auction. On April 24, this time limit was extended till August 31.

In its application now, the Centre said it was committed to implementing the directions in the ‘2G judgment’. On the basis of the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Department of Telecommunications submitted to the Empowered Group of Ministers a report for consideration on the issues of appointment of the auctioneer; quantum of spectrum, number and size of blocks to be auctioned in 1800 and 800 MHz bands; rollout obligations to be imposed; terms of payment of auction-determined amount by successful bidders; reserve price and spectrum usage charges.

To conduct the auction for licence/spectrum as was done for 3G band, the government had drawn up an accelerated schedule, showing due regard for the procedural requirements. For 3G auction in 2010, the process took 542 days. The present process for 2G “contemplates that auction will be commenced within 97 days of the commencement of work by the auctioneer,” the Centre said.

“Enough time needs to be given to bidders to enable them to take all steps to participate effectively in the auction including for raising funds/resources, obtaining internal approvals, etc” Only if sufficient time was provided would there be effective participation and proper discovery of the market price of spectrum. “In the absence of adequate time, the objective laid down in the 2G judgment for allocating spectrum through auction at market prices may not be fully achieved and the Government of India may be impacted adversely.”

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