Supreme Court registry refuses to accept Union government’s plea on 2G spectrum verdict

The registry termed the plea “misconceived” and an attempt to seek a review of the judgement in the guise of seeking clarification.


Published May 02, 2024 | 1:03 PM Updated May 02, 2024 | 1:04 PM

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The Supreme Court Registry is learnt to have refused to accept the Union government’s plea seeking modification of its 2012 verdict in the 2G spectrum case which had said the state was duty-bound to adopt the auction route while transferring or alienating the country’s natural resources.

Sources said the apex court registry termed the government plea “misconceived” and an attempt to seek a review of the judgment in the guise of seeking clarification.

The Registrar refused to receive it as per the provisions of Order XV Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.

“The Registrar may refuse to receive a petition on the ground that it discloses no reasonable cause or is frivolous or contains scandalous matter, but the petitioner may within 15 days of the making of such order, appeal by way of motion, from such refusal to the Court,” the SC rule reads.

As per it, the Union government may appeal against the order of the Registrar.

Also Read: Delhi HC admits CBI’s appeal challenging acquittal of A Raja, others in 2G scam case

The application

In its judgment delivered on 2 February, 2012, the apex court quashed 2G spectrum licences given to various firms during the tenure of A Raja as the telecom minister in January 2008.

On 22 April, Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, mentioned the application before a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala.

While seeking urgent listing of the application, the top law officer had told the bench that the plea seeks modification of the 2012 verdict as the Centre wanted to grant 2G spectrum licences in some other cases also.

The Centre, in its plea, has sought exemption from auctioning the 2G spectrum for non-commercial purposes in the discharge of sovereign functions of the state.

“Issue appropriate clarifications that the Government may consider the assignment of spectrum through the administrative process if so determined through due process in accordance with law, and if such assignment is in pursuit of governmental functions, or the public interest so requires, or auction may not be preferred due to technical or economic reasons,” it said.

NGO opposed application

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, which was one of the petitioners on whose plea the February 2012 verdict was delivered, opposed the application and said the issue has been well-settled by the apex court in its judgement that the auction is the only mode for granting licences for natural resources like spectrum, the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile phone industry for communication over the airwaves.

“We will see, you please move an email,” the CJI had told the attorney general for India.

In its 2012 judgment, the apex court had said, “When it comes to alienation of scarce natural resources like spectrum, etc., it is the burden of the state to ensure that a non-discriminatory method is adopted for distribution and alienation, which would necessarily result in protection of national/public interest”.

The top court had said in its view that a duly publicised auction conducted fairly and impartially was perhaps the best method for discharging this burden.

“In other words, while transferring or alienating the natural resources, the state is duty-bound to adopt the method of auction by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons can participate in the process,” it had said.

Also Read: Accused, jailed and acquitted in 2G ‘scam’, A Raja taunts Centre on 5G spectrum auction

The case

On 22 March this year, the Delhi High Court admitted a CBI appeal against the acquittal of Raja and 16 others in the 2G spectrum allocation case, paving the way for hearing the matter six years after the plea was filed by the agency.

Admitting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s appeal, the high court had said there were “some contradictions” in the trial court’s judgment which required “deeper examination”.

A special court had on 21 December, 2017, acquitted Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the CBI and ED cases related to the 2G spectrum allocation.

On 20 March, 2018, the CBI had approached the high court, challenging the special court’s judgment.

The CBI had alleged there was a loss of ₹30,984 crore to the exchequer in the allocation of licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the top court on 2 February, 2012.

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