Govt seeks time till Jan end to complete 2G auction

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 10 2012, 10:02am hrs
The Centre on Thursday requested the Supreme Court to grant additional five months to complete the process of fresh auction of 2G spectrum licences. It said that it would be able to complete the auction process by January end and allocate spectrum to the winners by March 8, 2013.

An application submitted to the apex court by the telecom ministry said that it needed time till November 12 to start the auction and another 40 days to complete the process of allocation of spectrum and grant of licences to the selected bidders. The court on April 24 while extending its original June 2 deadline to August 31, 2012 had refused to grant 400 days to the government to complete the process of fresh auctioning. However, it had allowed the existing licences to operate till September 7, 2012.

The decision to seek another extension of August 31 deadline to complete the auction process was taken at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom on Tuesday.

While assuring the court that it was fully and irrevocably committed to the implementation of the apex court's orders, it said that it has taken several steps within the legal and regulatory framework to ensure the prompt implementation of the orders and for the expeditious conduct of the auction for the purpose of grant of fresh telecom licenses and spectrum.

In order to ensure efficient conduct of the auction, the Centre has already appointed a duly qualified auctioneer Times Internet Ltd. The application said the auction process will commence within 97 days of the commencement of work by the auctioneer.

The affidavit filed through counsel DS Mahra also said that the Centre after consultation with the auctioneer has drawn up an accelerated schedule for conduct of auctions having due regard to the procedural requirements, the steps involved and the necessity of providing sufficient time for bidders (whether existing players or new entrants and whether domestic participants or foreign players) to enable their effective participation in the auction.

While stating that sufficient time is required to carry out the auction in appropriate manner, it said that enough time needs to be given to the bidders to enable them to participate effectively including raising of funds/resources, obtaining internal approvals, etc. The apex court on February 2 had cancelled 122 telecom licences and had directed fresh auctioning by June 2.