In wake of another round of 2G spectrum auction in March 2013, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has once again moved the Supreme Court, requesting it to allow telecom operators - whose licences were cancelled following February 2012 verdict - to operate after January 2013 deadline and until successful bidders of the proposed auction commence their operations.
If the court allows the firms to operate beyond the deadline, the same should be either at the proposed price for the upcoming auction or reserve price or whichever is higher, DoT has told the SC in its fresh affidavit.
"Existing operators whose licences stand quashed may or may not evince interest in such auction, if they are not allowed to offer their services pending conduct of such an auction and this may impact the discovery of an optimal price for spectrum."
DoT stated in its affidavit that it would be taken up by the court on January 12. It said if the court wasn't inclined to grant permission, it could let operators approach the government for seeking temporary licences.
A special bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly (since retired) had in February 2012 cancelled the licences after it declared the process of granting licences illegal.
The court had also ordered a CBI probe into the 2G spectrum scam. The licences for 22 circles were issued during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja. This is the third time that the DoT has sought extension of time for them. The first plea was made when government was unable to conduct an auction within four months as prescribed in the February 2012 spectrum verdict.
Later, a special bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice KS Radhakrishnan in August 2012 extended the deadline to January 18 after the DoT undertook to conduct the auction.