Laying emphasis on the procedural lapses in the previous NDA regime in regard to allocation of licences and spectrum, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday that the report of the one-man committee headed by Shivraj Patil had stated that in suo motu recommendations of October 27, 2003, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended that additional players (operators) be introduced through a multi-stage bidding process.
This was also accepted by the Union Cabinet on October 31, 2003. But in November 2003, the then Minister approved the formulation of a procedure for allocation of licences on a first-come, first-served basis, as against the bidding process. “All this was clearly in deviation of extant policies.”
On the former Telecom Minister A. Raja's controversial decision to advance the cut-off date for submitting applications for licences, the Committee found that it was neither in tune with the procedures nor did it meet the principles of objectivity and fairness of transparency.
“Procedure formulated whereby the processing of applications for grant of UASLs [Unified Access Services licences] was restricted to only such applications, which were received up to September 25, 2007, when the last date for receiving an application was stipulated as October 1, 2007, is not traceable either to powers vested in terms of any procedure laid out or satisfies the requisites of law, in particular, the principles of objectivity, fairness of transparency,” the report said.
Mr. Sibal said the report did not approve of the decision to change the procedure for acceptance of applications for the purpose of the first-come, first-served basis. It also found serious lapses in the implementation of decisions on spectrum allocation — whether be it the start-up spectrum or allocation of additional radio wave or even the matter related to access to dual technology (GSM and CDMA).
As for the remedial measures suggested by the committee, Mr. Sibal said it was advised that a reasonable, fair, transparent and certain procedure for selection based on merits is devised for the first-come, first-served. It also recommended that procedures be formulated, specifying a timeframe for receiving and scrutinising applications, and intimating in writing the applicants found eligible.