Regularisation of 2G licences of defaulters challenged in SC
The government's decision to regularise licences of the companies which failed to meet the deadline for the roll-out obligation of 2G spectrum, has been challenged in the Supreme Court by an NGO.
The application filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation along with other civil societies and individuals, has sought a direction to restrain the Ministry of Telecom from regularising 2G licenses of such companies by imposing penalty.
In their joint petition, the civil societies have alleged that these allocations, made by the Department of Telecom (DoT) during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja, were marred by "multiple illegalities, corruption and favouritism" and the government is trying to protect them by charging a small penalty.
"It is amply clear that DoT is protecting the interest of the companies which have benefited and even those companies which violated the licence conditions. The stark case of Loop and Swan makes this clear," the petition which is listed for hearing on Tuesday, said.
"In the case of Loop, there was a detailed complaint as to how it was a front company for Essar and therefore was ineligible for the licence. In the case of Swan, a detailed complaint was made that it is a front company for Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG). In both the cases, clean chit was given to both these entities by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs," the petition said.
The other petitioners in this case are Telecom Watchdog, Common Cause, former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh, T S Krishnamurthy and N Gopalaswami along with former Central Vigilance Commissioner P Shankar.
They further submitted that even the sectoral regulator has recommended for cancellation of 69 out of the 122 licences as the licencees have failed to roll out their services as stipulated by the condition on which they were given the licences.
"Restrain the Union of India from regularising any telecom license after charging some penalty or compounding any license violation," they pleaded alleging that in the present case, 122 telecom licences along with 2G spectrum were allocated in an arbitrary manner without any competitive process.
Referring to CAG report, the petitioners alleged that 85 licensees out of 122 issued to 13 companies have been found to the ineligible for grant of license and 2G spectrum and have acquired it through fraudulent means.