Today's Paper

2G: Supreme Court will not interfere with adverse findings

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined to interfere with the Delhi High Court's adverse findings against the Telecommunication Ministry's decision to fix the September 25, 2007 cut-off date for allocation of 2G spectrum to new telecom operators though it was extended till October 1, 2007.

A Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar disposed of the Centre's appeal against the judgment after Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati submitted that S Tel's application for licence had not been rejected and that it would be considered as and when spectrum space was available.

The Bench in its brief order said: “We make it clear that the findings reached by the High Court are not interfered with in this particular case.”

A Division Bench of the High Court concurred with the single judge's decision that there was no “rationale” in the DoT's decision to advance the deadline from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007. The High Court criticised the department for its arbitrary decision. The appeal was directed against this judgment.

Earlier, counsel for S Tel said market conditions had changed ever since the company filed its applications for 16 circles. He said the respondent was agreeable to the government's stand that the applications had not been rejected and that they would be considered in due course as per the prevailing policy.

However, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who intervened in the matter, opposed the Centre's plea for disposing of the SLP filed by it in view of the understanding reached between the Ministry and S.Tel. He alleged that the High Court findings were crucial to pursuing the case further as it involved a Rs. 60,000-crore scam. He said he had written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking sanction for prosecution of Communications Minister A. Raja but so far no reply was received. The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission were also probing the allegations over spectrum allocation.

The Supreme Court Bench, while agreeing with Dr. Swamy that it should not interfere with the High Court's findings, also accepted the written apology tendered by S Tel after it was pulled up for exchanging correspondence with the Centre on the allocation when the matter was pending in the court.