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SC raps Centre over 2G auction

New Delhi, Nov 19, 2012, DHNS:

Court miffed with govt for withholding spectrum, wants fresh affidavit

The Supreme Court on Monday told the government that withholding even 0.1 per cent of 2G spectrum is not acceptable.

Expressing its displeasure over the government’s dealing with the 2G case, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan directed the Centre to file a fresh affidavit within two days as to why all 2G spectrum, whose licences were cancelled by it, were not put to auction on November 12.

The court refused to accept an affidavit filed by under-secretary level officer and said that the government was “very casual” in dealing with the issue.  that the secretary of the department of telecom must file the affidavit.

“This affidavit cannot be accepted. Under-secretary of the government is not authorised to swear such affidavits since only an officer of secretary-level rank and above can take decisions in such matters. This is a deliberate attempt by the Department of Telecom (DoT) since we have already rejected such affidavits in the past. This case is very serious and while the court is taking this matter with seriousness, such affidavits are being filed,” the court said.

The bench took strong exception to the government not informing it about different aspects of spectrum auction even though it was monitoring the case.

“At no point of time the court was informed that auction was going to be only for 800 and 1800 MHz spectrum. The government is very casual in dealing with this matter. We will have to consider withholding of spectrum and other related issues, especially in the light of the averment that even the entire 1800 MHz-spectrum was not auctioned. We will say that withholding of even 0.1 per cent of spectrum will not be acceptable. They were required to auction the entire spectrum,” the court said.

The bench said termed it “unfair” on the part of the government in not apprising the court that only a stipulated quantum of spectrum was to be auctioned, and warned that it would examine if its February 2 verdict was complied with or not.

The matter has now been fixed for further hearing on November 26. The auction of 2G spectrum fetched the government only Rs 9,200 crore.

Appearing for NGO CPIL, advocate Prashant Bhushan said some cabinet ministers were making “objectionable” remarks against the Supreme Court's verdict as the auction received lukewarm response.

He requested the court to restraint the ministers for passing remarks on the constitutional body. The court, however, refrained from commenting.

The court told the counsel representing the Centre and the CBI to respond to the suggestions offered by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) asking for greater coordination between the three investigation agencies - the CBI, the ED and the IT department in order to expedite the investigation into several aspects of 2G scam.
The court also indicated that it might hear the 2G case on a day-to-day basis from January 2013 onwards.

The bench said it would take a final view on the question whether Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and his company could be chargesheeted for their role in a case relating to the 2G spectrum allocation. The court was told that the matter rested with the Attorney General for seeking his opinion in view of differences in CBI.


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