Centre withdraws 2G review plea

Centre has decided to withdraw its plea for a review of SC order scrapping 2G licences.

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi | Published: May 8, 2012 12:09:47 am

The Centre has decided to withdraw its plea for a review of the Supreme Court order scrapping the 2G licences and putting them up for auction.

The government’s U-turn comes two days before the scheduled hearing of the review petition. The government had sought a review of the February 2 judgment that quashed 122 UAS licences issued by former telecom minister A Raja in 2008. The review petition had described the judgment as an example of “judicial overreach”,and listed 75 grounds on which the Supreme Court had “erred”.

A one-page letter circulated by the Union of India’s advocate-on-record D S Mahra today said the review exercise had become too “limited”.

The letter,addressed to the Supreme Court registrar,said that “in view of the fact that only limited notice has been issued,the petitioners (government) do not want to press the Review Petition and will be praying for withdrawal of Review Petition”.

“Since this matter is fixed for May 10,2012,this letter may kindly be circulated before the Hon’ble Chief Justice to constitute the Bench at an appropriate date and time to avoid disruption and any inconvenience to the Learned Judges,” the letter said.

On April 13,a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya had agreed to consider the review petition only on one ground: whether the court’s insistence on a public auction of “scarce natural resources” would apply to mining too.

On the other 74 grounds,the court simply said no. The government,represented that day by Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising,had accepted this.

This meant that the entire 2G review petition boiled down to merely checking whether the February 2 judgment would rattle the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,1957. The Act prescribes that mining rights should be granted on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis.

In its 2G judgment,the court had observed that a FCFS policy to “distribute natural resources is per se flawed and ultra vires the Article 14 of the Constitution”.

The judgment,authored by Justice Singhvi,had ruled that “auction is the only method that should be adopted by the government while transferring or alienating national resources”.

Last month,Justice Singhvi had termed the review plea as merely a product of the government’s “apprehensions”. Jaising had rebutted,insisting that the government wanted a “roadmap for allotting natural resources”.

Today’s development comes after the court told the government on April 24 to “forget” about getting another 400 days to hold a fresh auction of cancelled 2G licences. The court fixed until August 31,2012,as “reasonable time”,and directed that licence-holders could operate their licences until September 7,so that consumers do not suffer until the dust settles after the fresh auction.

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