In a sudden move, the government on Tuesday decided to withdraw its petition seeking review of the Supreme Court’s verdict cancelling 122 2G spectrum licenses granted to various telecom companies during A Raja’s tenure as telecom minister.
Two days before the scheduled hearing of the petition by a special bench of justice GS SInghvi and justice KS Radhakrishnan on the limited question of auctioning of natural resources, the telecom department circulated a letter informing the withdrawal.
The bench had on April 13 issued notices to Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy and Centre for Public Interest Litigation on limited issues raised in the review petition.
“In view of the fact that only limited notice has been issued, the petitioners do not want to press the review petition and will be praying for withdrawal,” the letter filed by the departments’ advocate DS Mahra stated.
The letter mentioned that it was being circulated to avoid disruption of benches, as the Chief Justice of India would have convened the special bench for the hearing.
However, government sources said the review was withdrawn in wake of a Presidential reference pending before SC. The reference has raised similar questions that were part of the review petition.
Cancelling the 122 licenses, a bench then comprising Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly (since retired) had said the government must auction all national resources and not follow the first come first serve policy as it did in 2G spectrum in 2008.
Though the government had sought review on the ground that the verdict got into policy-making, a newly constituted bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice KS Radhakrishnan had on April 13 issued notice on Centre’s request to clarify whether all natural resources should be auctioned, as stated in the February judgment.
The government had also said the SC order upset a level-playing field and adversely affected competition. It justified the first-come-first-served policy in allotting telecom licences and as contended that an auction would will hit promotion of tele-density in rural and semi-urban areas of the country.