Government willing to auction spectrum,SC told

Attorney General G E Vahanvati clarified that the government has no objection to auctioning spectrum,but the Presidential reference is an effort to seek clarity on whether the February 2 judgment

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: July 13, 2012 2:29 am

Attorney General G E Vahanvati on Thursday clarified that the government has no objection to auctioning spectrum,but the Presidential reference is an effort to seek clarity on whether the February 2 judgment cancelling 122 radiowave licences binds the government to auction all other scarce natural resources too. The AG said that uncertainty about the reach of the judgment could impact foreign direct investment to the country.

“The far-reaching nature of this judgment may impact FDI and other investments in this country. This is the dilemma which the government faces. This is the question of far-reaching importance. This,read with the immediately preceding recital,demonstrates generally speaking the reluctance of foreign investors to look into India as a safe place for investments. It is this question which is highlighted in the reference,” he said.

“The President has made this reference on the basis that there are doubts now with regard to the way forward for the development of the country in general and introduction of FDI in these sectors. If,for instance,the government were to announce a project for discovery and winning of some natural resources such as gas other than on auction basis,foreign investors would be wary,if not reluctant,of participating if there was a likelihood of the project being cancelled or challenged on the ground that the auction principle was not implemented,” he said.

The apex court had on Wednesday rejected submissions that the reference was made with “malafide” intentions by the government to thwart transparency in the allocation of natural resources of the country. “We can’t reject the reference on the ground that it is malafide and misleading. The last sentence is unwarranted,” Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia had told Prashant Bhushan,the lawyer for Centre for Public Interest Litigation.

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy,another petitioner objecting to the reference,said the government was seeking to pass the buck instead of going ahead implementing the judgment to auction the spectrum.

On Thursday,Vahanvati said: “It is submitted that the contention that in effect,the present reference seeks to overturn or overrule the judgment dated February 2 is plainly not correct. It has been repeatedly made clear that the directions given in the said judgment have been accepted.”

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