New Delhi: NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) Tuesday urged the Supreme Court not to entertain the presidential reference in the 2G case.
The NGO said that the reference was aimed at seeking the top court’s opinion on the correctness of its own 2G case verdict in which it held that all natural resources should be allocated only through auction.
“The scope of the presidential reference can’t be to ask the apex court to pronounce opinion on the correctness of its judgment,” the court was told.
“Doubts about the correctness of a judgment of the apex court which has attained finality cannot be the subject matter of reference under Article 143,” the CPIL told the apex court constitution bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice D.K. Jain, Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Article 143 of the constitution deals with the power of president to consult the Supreme Court.
The apex court’s constitution bench was told this in the course of the hearing of the presidential reference wherein the core issue was whether all the natural resources, in the wake of its verdict in 2G scam, could be allocated only by way of auction.
The central government in the presidential reference contended that there were other ways to allocate natural resources with transparency coupled with accountability.
The government contended that the apex court verdict in 2G case was at variance with several other judgments of the court, including that of larger benches on the allocation of natural resources.
Appearing for CPIL, senior counsel Soli Sorabjee told the court that “such a reference would be plainly ultra vires Article 143 and is not maintainable. The apex court under Article 143 is not invested with appellate or review jurisdiction in respect of judgment which has attained finality.”
Assailing the presidential reference, Sorabjee told the court that the presidential reference would lie only if there was doubt or dispute about the law laid down in a case.
The senior counsel told the court that the “sum and substance of the presidential reference is that 2G verdict is not correct”.
Chief Justice Kapadia asked: “Can the president not ask the opinion of the apex court on the pricing of the oil and natural gasses?”
“If there is a judgment which is not exactly contrary to catena of earlier judgments but there is a doubt, can it not be clarified?” he asked.
In a poser to Sorabjee, the chief justice: “When what has been said about the spectrum is also extended to other natural resources does it not create doubt on the law laid down?”
Saying that it appreciated the CPIL plea that in the garb of presidential reference, the government could not seek the review of the 2G verdict, Justice D.K. Jain wondered if the apex court will have to wait for another case to come before it to decide on the method of allocating natural resources.
He asked what would happen in interregnum.
Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati told the court that the thrust of the 2G verdict was that all natural resources should be allocated through auction and such a position would have disastrous consequences.
Vahanvati told the court that as per the public trust doctrine, the disposal of resources depended on their nature. He said that all geological resources, including mineral and natural gas, came under natural resources.
Chief Justice Kapadia asked Vahanvati if he meant that in all these cases auction was not the best course.
The attorney general told the court that “in appropriate cases the auction was the best method of ascertaining the value (of natural resource)”.
The hearing on the maintainability of the presidential reference would continue Wednesday.