SC to hear Telecom Minister's case today

2G scam: Union minister had done no wrong in spectrum allocation, says Centre

The Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and Ganguly will hear the reply filed by the government last week defending the action of Raja in allocation of spectrum at a price set in 2001 incurring a loss of about Rs 1.76 lakh crore estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG).

The CAG in its report to the government is believed to have said non-auction of 2G (2 nd generation) spectrum (telephone air wave) in 2008 may have cost the exchequer up to Rs 1.40 lakh crore besides over Rs 36,000 crore on account of additional spectrum to existing players beyond 6.2 Mhz.

On Thursday, the Centre filed its reply giving a clean chit to Raja saying that he had done no wrong in 2G spectrum allocation and followed the policy enumerated in 1999.

“It is respectfully submitted at the outset that the issue of allotment and pricing of spectrum falls squarely in the domain of executing policy making, and in which the scope for judicial review is highly restricted,’’ said the affidavit filed by Sita Ram Meena, an assistant director general with the Ministry.

“The issue relating to allotment and pricing of 2G spectrum needs to be considered in light of the new telecom policy (NTP) 1999, the objectives of the telecom sector identified by the Five Year Plans and the recommendations of TRAI  made from time to time and actual experience of operations in the sector,’’ said the reply.

The DoT had throughout acted in public interest on the basis of the policy determined by the Government of India. “... it is respectfully submitted that the allotment process in 2007-08 was correct as per law and in keeping with the extant policy and procedures.”

Loss of revenue calculated at various figures ranging from Rs 70,000 crore to Rs 1,40,000 crore is ‘misconceived’, the reply said. The Ministry in affidavit claimed that the government had not suffered any loss on account of such allocation and the decision, against auctioning of the 2G spectrum and maintaining the same entry fee since 2001, was done to increase the tele-density rather than to maximise revenue.

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