SC criticises ‘casual’ govt approach to 2G auction
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A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan also refused to take on record an affidavit filed by a junior official. "Under secretary of the government is not authorised to swear such affidavits since only an officer of secretary-level rank and above can take decisions in such matters. This is a deliberate attempt by the Department of Telecom since we have already rejected such affidavits in the past. This case is very serious and while the court is taking this matter with seriousness, such affidavits are being filed," the bench said.
It gave the Centre two days to file a fresh affidavit explaining why the entire 2G spectrum was not auctioned. The bench also questioned why some aspects of the government's decisions on keeping certain frequencies reserved, non-availability of a frequency band etc., had not been brought to its knowledge even though it was monitoring the case.
The court was apprised that while 900 MHz telecom spectrum was not available for auction, the entire block of 1,800 MHz spectrum cancelled by the court was not auctioned either as recommended by TRAI.
"At no point of time the court was informed that auction was going to be only for 800 and 1,800 MHz spectrum... government is very casual in dealing with this matter...We will have to consider withholding of spectrum and other related issues, especially in the light of the averment that even the entire 1800 MHz spectrum was not auctioned. We will say that withholding of even 0.1 per cent of spectrum will not be acceptable. They were required to auction the entire spectrum," the bench said.
It also observed that it was "unfair" to not bring it to the notice of the court that only a stipulated amount of spectrum was being auctioned on November 12.
"We are going to examine whether there was compliance by the government with the February 2 verdict. If there appears to be a default, we will adopt proper recourse," the court cautioned and set the next hearing on November 26.
The bench also asked the Centre and the CBI to consider suggestions from the Central Vigilance Commission for greater coordination between the CBI, ED and IT department to expedite the 2G scam probe.
Indicating that the court might hear the 2G case on a day-to-day basis from January 2013, it also remarked that this case must be brought to a logical end.
The bench heard CBI counsel K K Venugopal and the petitioner's lawyer Prashant Bhushan over whether Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal and his company should be chargesheeted for their alleged role in a case linked to 2G spectrum allocation.
A plea was moved after the CBI said there was a difference of opinion between their investigation and prosecution wings over filing a chargesheet and naming Mittal as an accused and that the Attorney General's opinion on this is awaited.
The bench said the government could consult the AG but made it clear: "When the court is monitoring the case, the final opinion will be of this court."
Bhushan and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy also raised questions of propriety over some Cabinet ministers making remarks against the Supreme Court's verdict following the auction. The duo wanted the ministers to be restrained and said they were surprised that some ministers expressed "happiness" that the government did not get enough money in the latest auction. The bench, however, did not respond.
Bhushan also submitted a note containing reasons for the auction not being successful and accused the government of deliberately ensuring the same. The court is likely to delve into this on Monday.
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