A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing the Government’s Presidential Reference on issues emerging from the apex court’s landmark 2G spectrum case ruling, on Tuesday.
The Bench, headed by the Chief Justice Mr S.H. Kapadia will decide on whether it is mandatory for the Government to only auction all natural resources, including 2G spectrum, or choose any other option for their distribution.
The Government had claimed that “auction cannot be the only permissible method for disposal of natural resources”. It said such a uniform policy for distribution of natural resources is not practical, adding that allocation of natural resources is a matter pertaining to policy and beyond the purview of judicial review.
The Presidential Reference has also asked for the apex court’s opinion on whether the 2G case judgment is retrospectively applicable on 2G licences given since 1994 as well as its implications on the 3G spectrum allocation.
On February 2, the apex court had passed its order on the petition filed by the NGO — Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) — and the Janata Party President, Dr Subramanian Swamy, cancelling 122 licences granted during the regime of the then Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, after finding illegalities in their distribution. The court also held that the policy of first-come-first-serve was flawed.
On May 11, the court had issued notices to CPIL, Dr Swamy, state Government and industry bodies such as CII and FICCI. According to the CPIL, the Reference was not maintainable and aims at the continuation of the Government’s “opaque and corrupt system of allocation of the resources to big industrialists.”