Government seeks time till March 2013 for 2G licence auction


New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) The central government Thursday moved the Supreme Court requesting time till March 2013 for auctioning the 2G licences and allocation of spectrum, cancelled by the apex court by its Feb 2 order.

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The application for clarificatory orders/direction has sought the court’s nod for conducting the auction of the cancelled 2G licences broadly in accordance with the roadmap set forth by it.

Seeking more time for the auction of the cancelled 2G licences and the spectrum allocation, the government application pointed out that it has already “undertaken a detailed examination of the steps involved in the conduct of the auction… and the process of auction, commencing with the receipt of TRAI recommendations… will take at least 400 days”.

Pointing out that the auction of 3G spectrum, which was a “green field exercise starting with a clean slate”, took 1,560 days, the application said that the “planning and execution of 2G spectrum auction would be far more complicated task” as it would involve dealing with “both legacy issues as well as issues arising out of policy decisions”.

The application said it is expected that the auction process will take at least 400 days and, accordingly, the new licences and spectrum can be issued only in or around March 2013.

A bench of Justice G.S.Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly (since retired) had Feb 2 declared illegal and had quashed 122 licences granted to telecom operators on or after Jan 10, 2008.

The telecom ministry would also be filing a review petition in the apex court Friday.

“We will file a review petition in all probability by tomorrow,” Telecom Secretary R. Chandreshekhar said Thursday.

According to Chandrashekhar, the petition would relate to the specific directions of the court regarding quashing of licences and to the question of policy and policy-making.

The court had said that its direction quashing the licences would become operative after four months from the date of pronouncement of its verdict and services provided by the telecom operators would stand terminated.

By the order, the court had directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to make fresh recommendations for the grant of licences and allocation of spectrum and said that the central government would consider them and take appropriate decision within next one month.

The application pointed out that in pursuance of the court’s order, the services of the telecom operators would come to standstill, thereby causing inevitable disruption of services of their subscribers.

The petition said that a total of 69 million subscribers, who constitute 7.5 percent of total mobile users in the country, would be affected.

Bringing this to the notice of the court, the application said: “There may be a gap in time before issuance of new licences and allocation of spectrum, and such gap may result in a disruption or lack of continuity in services to the ultimate subscribers.”

The government has also submitted a chart detailing the steps that would be required to be taken for the auctioning of the 2G licences and allocation of spectrum and had sought court’s nod for it.