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Updated: February 2, 2012 02:08 IST

Crucial verdict today on plea to probe role of Chidambaram

J. Venkatesan
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In this December 17, 2011 photo, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy speaks to the media after deposing as witness in the 2G spectrum case.
The Hindu In this December 17, 2011 photo, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy speaks to the media after deposing as witness in the 2G spectrum case.

The Supreme Court will pronounce on Thursday its verdict on three important issues in the 2G case — the alleged role of P. Chidambaram, during his tenure as Finance Minister, in fixing spectrum price; and the pleas for cancellation of licences issued “illegally” to 11 companies and for continued monitoring of the CBI probe.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly reserved order on the petitions filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation and others through advocate Prashant Bhushan and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy. Justice Ganguly, retiring on Thursday, will share the Bench with Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia briefly. Justice Singhvi will deliver two verdicts touching all the three issues.

Dr. Swamy complained that the Central Bureau of Investigation had not even examined Mr. Chidambaram as a witness, and sought a direction that the Minister's role in fixing the price for spectrum allocation be probed by the agency.

Mr. Bhushan argued that the allotment of spectrum licence on a first come, first served (FCFS) basis, rather than by auction, at 2001 prices in 2008 was arbitrary as it caused a huge loss to the public exchequer. The allocated spectrum should be taken back by the government and re-auctioned, he demanded.

Dr. Swamy wanted all eligible applicants, who had applied before the pre-announced cut-off date of October 1, 2007, permitted to participate in the auction.

‘Raja to blame, not Chidambaram'

The Centre defended Mr. Chidambaram, saying he had no role in either price fixation or grant of licences. The consistent stand of the Finance Ministry and Mr. Chidambaram on entry fee, licences and spectrum was that they should be auctioned. Blaming the former Telecom Minister A. Raja, the Centre said it was he who had postponed a Full Telecom Commission meeting, from January 9, 2008 to January 15, 2008, where the issue of auction was to have been discussed. And again, Mr. Raja jumped the gun and issued the Letters of Intent to telecom companies on January 10, 2010, the Centre said and wondered how Mr. Chidambaram could be responsible for this. The then Finance Minister could not have cancelled the licences by himself as it was a major policy decision by the government. “It is not an easy matter to take a decision when litigation was also involved [as a result of cancellation of licences] and you cannot attach criminality to the [then] Finance Minister.”

The Centre also defended the telecom policy adopted since 1994 and said “spectrum was allocated on the basis of the policy decision which does not envisage auction.”

It said licences could not be cancelled only on the ground that the auction policy was not followed.

The FCFS policy, introduced in January 2001, was never referred to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for its opinion, the Centre said. The TRAI gave its recommendation that there should be no cap on the number of access service providers in each service area. The DoT did not deal with paucity of spectrum.

The CBI, opposing the plea for setting up a special investigation team to monitor its probe, said doing so would send wrong signals and affect its credibility.

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any financial and technical dealing in the Union Govt, concerns that Ministry, Finance ministry and also the PM and Raja alone can not make a decision,perhaps, Nod would have come from the concerned ministry.Once P chidambaram name is mentioned, he ought to have contest then and there,instead alloweing matter to a court,and it is wonder how the congress heade bt MRs Soni, and the President, can not just wipe the same under the carpet.The outcome of the court verdict will expose those responsible for the this great 2G spectrum case to get more light.shortly.

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 11:11 IST

Finance Ministry's stand was auction route! Raja's stand or his ministry's stand was First come first served. The great economist Doctor Manmohan Singh our Hon'ble PM seems to have decided in favour of Raja's method. I see incompetence in getting the right price for a National resource.

from:  R Swaminathan
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 07:18 IST

supreme court is the real defender and protector of the human rights.
it again proved that you can not be cheated until you are in the ambit of supreme court. this verdict paved the way of equity before the law and confirmed that there is rule of law. this verdict demolish the wall of abdication.

from:  gyaneshwar
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 02:58 IST

There should be an election as PC was not the winner at the last election. This case should be taken by the court and not delaying due to power at the Cntre.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Feb 2, 2012 at 02:12 IST
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