In a historic judgement, the Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled all 122 licences granted to telecom companies during the tenure of former communications minister A. Raja on the ground that they were issued in a ‘totally arbitrary and unconstitutional manner.’
However, the court refused to direct CBI to probe the alleged role of Chidambaram in the case and held that the trial court would decide on Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy’s plea to make Home Minister Chidambaram a co-accused in the case.
The apex court also said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would submit its report on the 2G scam probe to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The CVC after examining the report would give its report to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover, the apex court said on a plea to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for day-to-day monitoring of the CBI probe in the scam.
Imposing a fine of Rs five crore each on three telecom companies, which offloaded their shares after getting the licenses, the court directed regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to make fresh recommendations on allocation of 2G licences.
Asking the government to take steps on the recommendations of TRAI within a month, a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said the allocation of spectrum will be done through the policy of auction within four months.
The order came on petitions filed by NGO CPIL and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy alleging scam in the allocation of spectrum licences by Raja in January, 2008 during the tenure of UPA-I government, on which the CAG had assumed the presumptive loss of upto Rs 1.76 lakhs.
The 122 licences were given by Raja for over Rs 9,000 crore, while 3G auctions for a smaller number of licences had fetched the government a sum of Rs 69,000 crores.
The eleven major companies include: Unitech wireless group, Loop Telecom private limited, Videocon Telecommunication Ltd, S tel limited Allianz infratech Private Limited, Idea Cellular and Aditya Birla Telecom Limited, Tata Service Limited, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Limited, Dishnet wireless Limited, Aircel Limited,Vodafone Essar south Limited and Vodafone Essar Spacetel Limited.