In its response to a Public Interest Litigation petition in the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecommunications pointed on Thursday to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendation that the entry fee for the subsequent operator be kept the same as what the fourth operator had paid in 2001. The aim was to maintain a level playing field.
“As a result of allowing free competition and a level playing field, tele-density increased to a huge extent. Call charges came down drastically, and India today has perhaps the lowest call charges in the… whole world. Government revenue also increased because of the revenue-sharing regime,” the DoT said its affidavit.
It said the contention of the petitioner, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, on the non-auction of 2G spectrum had no merit. Pointing out that no comparison could be made between the 2G and 3G spectrum, it said that while 2G services were a basic mobile telephone service of necessity for the public, 3G services were valued-added/premium services. “There was a legacy methodology for the allocation of 2G spectrum, while 3G spectrum is being allocated for the first time.”
On the basis of an alleged loss ranging from Rs.70,000 crore to Rs.1,40,000 crore (with the CAG figure put at Rs.1,39,652 crore), it was being called the biggest scam of the country, the affidavit said, describing such an argument as totally misconceived. The revenue loss was calculated as the amount allegedly received by some operators after selling 2G spectrum which they had obtained from the government, and the amount received by the government in the 3G spectrum auction.
Contending that false allegations were made to mislead and prejudice the court, the affidavit said the DoT had acted in public interest throughout, on the basis of the policy determined by the government of India. “There is no case made out for monitoring the investigation by the CBI or by a special investigation team,” it said, seeking dismissal of the petition.