NGO defends auction of natural resources

An NGO, which filed a PIL in the 2G case, on Tuesday defended auction for disposal of natural resources.

NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice S H Kapadia that other modes like first-come-first served for the purpose may be legal under certain circumstances, but are absolutely illegal and unconstitutional while dealing with scarce natural resources.

The NGO told the apex court that authorities and institutions including Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have favoured auction for the allocation of coal and other minerals.

Rebutting the Centre’s arguments on the Presidential reference sent after 2G verdict, senior counsel Soli Sorabjee, appearing on behalf of the NGO questioned its maintainability. He told the court that answering the questions posed in the reference would open the floodgates as the government would resort to the mechanism whenever it did not find any verdict suitable to its ideas.

“This court should not permit the government to invoke its advisory jurisdiction as a convenient expedient to overcome inconvenient judgments,” he said adding that answering the queries of the Presidential Reference would tantamount to reconsideration of the February 2 verdict which had attained finality following the withdrawal of the review petition by the government.

The bench, however, said it could not only keep in mind the rights of the citizens but rights of the legislature and privilege of the House. “Can we proceed on the basis that since there is a lot of corruption in the society, so auction has to be the only way? Auction, which is an economic principle, will have to (be) upgraded as a constitutional principle of distributing natural resources. Otherwise, can we pick up an economic principle, which may have different variables, and say this will the only policy,” the court said.

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