SC criticises ‘casual’ govt approach to 2G auction

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Asks why entire spectrum was not offered, warns against ‘withholding even 0.1%’ (Reuters) Asks why entire spectrum was not offered, warns against ‘withholding even 0.1%’ (Reuters)
SummaryAsks why entire spectrum was not offered, warns against ‘withholding even 0.1%’

examine whether there was compliance by the government with the February 2 verdict. If there appears to be a default, we will adopt proper recourse,” cautioned the court while fixing the matter for further hearing on November 26.

The auction of 2G mobile phone airwaves had received a tepid response from telecom companies, with only 55 per cent of the 176 blocks put on the block receiving bids. The value of the bids amounted to just Rs 9,200 crore — much less than the proceeds the government expected. The auction had become necessary after the Supreme Court’s February ruling cancelling 122 telecom licences issued in 2008 by then telecom minister A Raja.

The Bench also asked the Centre and CBI to consider suggestions given by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over greater coordination between the three probe agencies — CBI, ED and IT department — so as to expedite the investigation into several aspects of the 2G scam. The court has asked their counsel to get necessary instructions and revert on the next date.

Indicating that the court might hear the 2G case on a day-to-day basis from January 2013, it also remarked that this case must be brought to a logical end.

The Bench heard CBI’s counsel K K Venugopal and petitioner’s advocate Prashant Bhushan briefly over the legal question if Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and his company should be chargesheeted for their alleged role in a case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation.

A plea was moved after the CBI submitted that there was a difference of opinion between their investigation and prosecution wings over filing a chargesheet and naming Mittal as an accused in the FIR and that the matter now rested with the Attorney General for his opinion.

The Bench said that the government could consult the AG for his opinion while making it clear: “When the court is monitoring the case, the final opinion will be of this court.”

The proceedings were concluded on Monday with Bhushan and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy raising questions of propriety over some Cabinet ministers making objectionable remarks against the Supreme Court’s verdict following the auction. The duo sought restraint on the ministers for passing remarks on the constitutional body and expressed surprise that some of the ministers expressed “happiness” while talking to the media that the government did not get enough money. The Bench however did not

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