It's absurd to harp on constitutional niceties when exchequer suffered huge loss: CPI

The Supreme Court has ‘encroached' on the executive domain by pronouncing the first come, first served policy for allocation of 2G spectrum flawed and by cancelling 122 licences, the Department of Telecommunications said in a presentation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Friday.

The DoT maintained that policy formulation was the prerogative of the executive and not a judicial function. Moreover, the Supreme Court judgment in the 2G cases was “contrary” to its own verdicts.

The JPC has been set up to probe telecom policies followed from 1998 to 2009, including the 2G scam.

Commenting on the presentation, JPC member Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI told The Hindu: “The argument advanced by the government is dangerous. In the name of defending the constitutional sanctity the government is going all out to seek revision of the SC judgment and might go in for a presidential reference.”

Mr. Dasgupta maintained that it was absurd on the part of the government to harp on ‘constitutional niceties' when the public exchequer had suffered a huge loss on account of allotment of licences with ulterior motives. “When the executive fails in discharging its responsibilities, how can anyone argue that the judiciary cannot step in?”

The DoT said, “The judgment, in respect of the policy, is directly contrary to the settled law, as laid down by the Supreme Court, that the essence of policymaking and governance is the weighting and balancing of different values and considerations, which is the role of the executive, and it is not permissible for the court to take this exercise upon itself and engage in policymaking, both for the reason that it is not its role to do so and [that it] does not have the expertise to do so.”

It contended that the verdict erred in holding that the policy was “flawed” and “lopsided” on the ground that, in the view of the court, the considerations of promoting the growth, affordability, penetration of wireless services in semi-urban and rural areas, as well as maintaining a level-playing field between the existing and new licensees for 2G spectrum, were outweighed by the considerations of maximising short-term revenue for the state.

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