Decision on 2G review petition in a week's time

The Union government will take a call in a week’s time on filing a review petition before the Supreme Court over its judgment to cancel the 122 telecom licences.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held a meeting of his senior ministers on Saturday, has asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to give his opinion on the issue. The government has 30 days to file the review petition in the case for which the verdict was delivered on February 2.

The meeting, attended by Cabinet Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid also discussed the implications of the judgment which has virtually laid down the road map for future spectrum allocations. The apex court, strongly criticising the first-come-first-served policy adopted by then Telecom Minister A Raja, who gave away the 122 licences, wants auction to be the mode of selection of the future bidders.

The meeting, the first major one to be held by the prime minister, has been described as a preliminary one to get a clear understanding of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
The meeting discussed, among other aspects of the 2G mess, what should be the new policy towards spectrum sale and if a new law needs to be framed.

The government has to set in the procedure afresh on allocation of the 546 mhz of 2G spectrum vacated by nine telecom operators whose 122 licences are spread across the country.

Coming out of the meeting, Telecom Minister Sibal said, “We had a presentation in which salient features of judgment were discussed. It was an exercise in informing the prime minister and the group of what happened in court.”

He told reporters: “This meeting was to inform senior ministers as to what are the implications and ramifications of the judgment. This group was not meant to take any decision. Ultimately all the matters have to go to Cabinet so government has to be informed before that in order to take a decision.”

Telecom Secretary Chandrashekhar informed the meeting about various aspects of the judgment and its impact on the telecom sector. “The telecom secretary gave a full presentation on what the judgment is about, what it means and when we move forward,” Sibal said.

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