Govt not to move SC over 2G licence cancellation

Centre may seek limited review of court order; S-Tel wants investment amount returned

The UPA government, struggling for the last few weeks to address some issues raised after the Supreme Court in its judgement cancelling 122 telecom licences, will not challenge the order but will likely seek a limited review of the verdict.

“We are not looking at challenging the cancellation of the licences per se,” Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
The government’s disclosure came on a day when the Tata Teleservices moved the apex court challenging the 2G verdict and S-Tel writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “return the Rs 1,700 crore it has invested in India.”

Chandrashekhar said: “... by the end of this week, we expect to be able to take the key decisions... all legal options are on the table at this point,” he said, adding that “there are a number of issues that arise from the Supreme Court order and these require careful analysis which is what we are doing... not only analysis of the issue but what are the legal options in terms of actions that can be taken.”

The government has to take the decision by Friday – it was given a month’s time by the court from the date of its judgement pronounced on February 2 to file a review petition.
According to government sources, it may also make a presidential reference on the issue if it decides not to file a review petition.

The prime minister recently asked the Department of Telecom to constitute an experts committee to study the legal and technical implications of the judgement and submit its recommendation which would then be studied by a high level committee chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee before a decision is taken on how to go about addressing the entire range of issues.

While cancelling the licences, the Supreme Court had set a four-month deadline to announce fresh auction and allot 2G spectrum to telecom companies. However the Department of Telecom had said that it required at least nine months to complete the auction process.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Siva Group Chairman C Sivasankaran demanded the return of the company’s total investments made while offering to surrender 2G and 3G licences along with the infrastructure of S-Tel.

These include six licences of S-Tel and Siva Group which, along with its partner, Bahrain Telecom, has so far invested Rs 1,700 crore in six telecom circles across the country.

R Chandrashekhar: We are not looking at challenging the cancellation of the licences per se ... By the end of this week, we expect to be able to take the key decisions.

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