The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended time till August 31 for the auction and grant of fresh licences in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation case.
The apex court told the Central government that they could not be given much time.
“We cannot give you 400 days for sanctioning and granting of fresh licences,” said the Supreme Court. The court further ruled that the existing licence owners would continue till September 7 before their licences were quashed.
The Supreme Court said, “the entire exercise would have been avoided if little effort was made earlier. A fact has been brought to our notice that 7800 crores were lost on each license.”
“We are still not in position to believe that officers of the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) are so naive that they overlooked all this. So we are not in a position to accept 400 days of extension,” the court added.
Telecom regulator – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) – had proposed a steep base price for auctioning of the spectrum. The court had asked the regulator to come up with recommendations on the auction by June. TRAI said the high pricing is justified because this spectrum can be used for services like 2G, 3G, etc. Prices of telecom stocks today fell for a second straight day due to these recommendations.
The Attorney General (AG), appearing for the DoT, said that the new TRAI recommendations have come only yesterday and this have an impact on the auction and hence, it wanted time.
The Supreme Court in February this year had cancelled 122 licenses issued by former Telecom Minister A Raja in 2008. The court had said using a first-come-first-serve policy to allocate national resources like airwaves is “fundamentally flawed”, dangerous, and designed to benefit any one “with access to power corridors.”
According to the court order in February, these licenses were to be reallocated in four months via an auction based on market prices.