SC sword over Maran era
Apart from the 122 licences for 2G services that suffered a Supreme Court guillotine in the wake of the spectrum scandal on Thursday, 23 more could suffer the same fate after the country's highest judicial authority said it saw a fundamental flaw in the first-come, first-served policy of allotting telecom service licences.
The government during communications minister Dayanidhi Maran's tenure had issued 22 licences in 2006 and one in 2007 using exactly the same controversial rule that resulted in a free-for-all rather than an auction or other forms of organized selection.
Out of these, 14 licences were issued to Aircel and its sister concern Dishnet Wireless, which are being probed for unfair links involving the then minister, which Maran denies.
"There is a flaw in the principle of first-come-first-served (FCFS) as it involves an element of pure chance or accidents," the court said. "In matters involving award of contracts or grant of licence or permission to use public property, the invocation of FCFS principle has inherently dangerous implications. Any person who has access to power corridor at the highest or the lowest level may be able to obtain information from the government files…"
However, on the issue of cancellation of other licences awarded on FCFS basis, communications minister Kapil Sibal said, "Other licences are not cancelled because other parties are not before the court."