Giving a major relief to the Centre battling the coal block allocation controversy, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the auction order in the 2G scam was restricted to the telecom sector only and it does not believe that it applies to other sectors.
The apex court clarified that the order was not for all natural resources but for telecom industry, offering the government the strength to now fight back over the coal scam issue since it was accused of not following the auction route while allocating the blocks.
The apex court held that the 2G Presidential Reference is maintainable. Former President Pratibha Patil on Apr 12 signed the Presidential Reference by which the central government could seek clarity from the Supreme Court on auctioning of natural resources and even spectrum in connection to the 2G allocation scam.
The court, however, answered only two questions raised in the Presidential Reference and refused to answer all the eight questions in it.
Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said: "It is a huge relief for government." He said the government stands vindicated.
The Supreme Court in a landmark verdict on Feb 2 had ordered all 122 telecoms licences issued under a 2008 sale be revoked and ruled that natural resources like mobile spectrum be auctioned, terming the government's first-come-first-served allocation "unconstitutional".
In March, the government filed a review petition in the apex court questioning the judgement and saying the court has breached its exclusive domain of the executive and has gone beyond the limits of judicial review.
The government contended the top court´s prescription of a single method for distribution of all natural resources through auction is contrary to the principle of separation of powers embodied in the Constitution.