The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that it will first hear all the issues arising out of the Presidential Reference on the 2G spectrum ruling and then decide on its maintainability and merit.

The five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by the Chief Justice Mr S H Kapadia, said this after hearing arguments on the maintainability of the reference for five days. The court has directed the Attorney General, Mr G E Vahanvati, to start the Government’s arguments on the merits of the reference from Thursday.

The issues that will be heard include whether it is mandatory for the Government to distribute all natural resources only through a public auction (as directed in the earlier 2G ruling) or whether the Government can choose any other option such as the first-come-first-served (FCFS) for their allocation.

On May 11, the court had issued notices to the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and the Janata Party President, Dr Subramanian Swamy, (both petitioners in the 2G case), State Governments and industry bodies such as CII and FICCI.

On February 2, the apex court has passed its order on the petition filed by CPIL and Dr Swamy, cancelling 122 licences granted during the regime of the then Telecom Minister, Mr A Raja, after finding illegalities in their distribution. It also held that the FCFS policy was flawed.

The CII, represented by senior advocate, Mr Harish Salve, argued in favour of the reference, claiming it was maintainable. It said observations in the 2G ruling -- that it was mandatory for the Government to auction all natural resources – go beyond the scope of writ of mandamus.

FICCI, represented by senior advocate, Mr C A Sundram, said the 2G ruling amounted to judiciary getting into the executive’s domain of policy-making, adding that the verdict would also impact foreign investment in the telecom and other sectors.

(This article was published on July 18, 2012)
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