Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has totally opposed the move for making a Presidential Reference on the 2G case and instead feels the Government should implement the Supreme Court order cancelling the spectrum licenses and completing the auction in good faith.
He has also suggested that a Group of Ministers can be constituted to consider complex issues like pricing of spectrum which could consider options put out by the Telecom Ministry and then make recommendations to the Government.
A fortnight ago, the Union Cabinet discussed the possibility of making a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court on its 2G judgement especially on issues like auction of scarce natural resources and the First Come, First Serve method.
It deferred a decision on the ground that the Solicitor General can be called to give his views on the complex issues.
The government has, however, filed a review petition on the court judgement delivered in the first week of February.
“....there is nothing to be gained by making a Presidential reference on the lines of the draft. If a reference has to be made, it must clearly state the Government’s position on key issues but I do not know if that would be appropriate,” Mr. Ahluwalia said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently.
He said if the Government itself was unclear about some aspects of policy like pricing of spectrum then it should first clarify its position and added that Telecom Commission comprising officials was not the right forum to use for evolving solutions to these complex and possibly controversial decisions.
On balance, Mr. Ahluwalia said the best course of action may be to implement the order of the court cancelling the licenses and complete the auction in good faith.
“Challenges regarding past licenses can be met in court with a clear indication of our position on the need for stability in policy. Decisions on pricing should be taken as executive decision by a Group of Ministers/Cabinet, if necessary,” he said in the letter, copies of which were sent to Ministers of Finance, Home, Telecom and Law.
Reason behind the move
On the question whether the government should move for a Presidential Reference and in what manner, Mr. Ahluwalia said the reason for it seems to be the belief that unless certain issues are clarified the government may be forced to reopen decisions on earlier licences that were not issued on basis of auction and the court’s clarification may be needed on certain aspects even to proceed with the auction.
“I am not convinced that these concerns are valid. I also feel that raising these issues will create unnecessary problems,” he said.