The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the government’s reply to its persistent query why the entire telecom spectrum available was not auctioned on November 12.
The court objected to an undersecretary filing the reply, instead of the secretary of the telecom ministry. “An undersecretary has no business to file the affidavit; we have indicated this earlier also,” the bench observed, and added the government was dealing with the serious issue “very casually”.
Later, dictating the order, the judges summarised their objection and described the government attitude as “unfortunate”. They recorded how the lapse was being repeated by the government in the 2G spectrum case though the court had on earlier occasions told it to desist from that.
The court granted two days to the government to file a proper reply and the case would be heard again on Monday.
Senior counsel P P Rao, who represented the government, said the 800-MHz and 1,800-MHz spectrum bands were put up for auction. The 900-MHz band was kept out, as it was not available and new technology had to be introduced for the band. The judges said the court was not informed about the bands available for auction though the government had approached the court several times for extension of time for the auction. They said the government must give a proper explanation for not auctioning the entire spectrum that became available after the court quashed 122 licences in its February 2 judgment.
The court accepted two sets of status reports from the CBI and the Central Vigilance Commission regarding the ongoing inquiry and prosecution of the persons and companies involved in the 2G scam.
The court heard the explanation of the CBI as to why the Attorney General was consulted on the question of prosecuting certain companies such as Airtel, Vodafone and their top executives accused of using their clout in 2002 to get licences through changes in norms.
According to CBI counsel K K Venugopal, when there is a difference of opinion between the prosecutors and the CBI, the manual recommends reference of the issue to the AG. The argument will continue next week.