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Centre denies news that it sought permission to auction satcom spectrum

The government has not asked the Supreme Court (SC) to amend its 2012 judgment on 2G spectrum allotment, said highly placed sources on Wednesday.

Its application has also not sought permission for administratively allocating spectrum either, they added.

Spectrum will continue to be auctioned for mobile services. Specific sectors cited in the telecom bill will be allocated the spectrum administratively, said the sources. An application filed by the government in the SC on December 12 last year was mentioned in the court on Monday. The application is likely to come up for hearing on Friday or early next-week.

“In the light of full transparency, given that there has been a history of litigation (on the issue) in the telecom sector, we had filed a miscellaneous application at the SC, explaining what we intended to do, before we tabled the bill. The telecom Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 18. The application was just to clarify. It was not for seeking any permission from the court,” a senior source in the government said.

He stressed the application does not request the Supreme Court to alter rules for the administrative allocation of spectrum or to amend the court’s judgment on the issue.

“The intention was to inform the courts and take them onboard. There was no compulsion on us to do this. It was not something the government regularly does but given the extensive litigation on this matter, it was deemed necessary to inform the courts,” the source said.

The Centre currently issues spectrum administratively in cases where auctions are not technically or economically preferred, it told the SC in its latest application reviewed by Business Standard.

Clarification sought
The government’s application has requested clarifications from the SC so that the process of administrative allocation can smoothly continue.

It noted that all such cases of administrative assignments have been on the specific condition that these “shall not be treated as final but purely interim and provisional; subject to governments final decision on pricing and policy in the matter”.

“This application has been filed to seek appropriate clarifications from this Honourable Court regarding the CPIL judgement, to establish a spectrum assignment framework that includes methods of assignment other than auction in suitable cases, to best serve the common good,” the application reads.

It may come up for hearing on Friday or early next-week. Business Standard

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