2G: SC allows govt to withdraw its review plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today allowed government to withdraw its petition seeking review of the 2G judgement after rapping it for circulating a letter on its intention to various parties linked to the matter. The apex court granted withdrawal of the review petition on the "oral request" made by Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising.

She made the request on the advise of a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, which took strong exception to the Centre seeking withdrawal of the review petition by circulating a letter. A letter was circulated on May 8 to the parties linked to the matter, saying an application would be moved on May 10 for withdrawing the petition seeking review of the February 2 judgement which had held the first come-first serve policy as unconstitutional. The apex court had also cancelled 122 2G licences, allotted during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja. The Centre`s letter circulated to various parties said, "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 of the review petition."

"You should have filed a proper application. Please tell us when was the occasion to request for constituting an appropriate bench," the court asked while referring to the content of the letter in which a request was made for constituting an appropriate bench. "When the matter was listed for today, what was the need for the advocate to circulate a letter asking for constituting a bench by the CJI," the bench said.

The bench said it has been frequently finding such type of letters in which "indecorate language is being used". The government`s plea for withdrawal of the review petition was opposed at the outset by advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, on whose petition and others` CBI probe was ordered in the 2G spectrum scam.

He alleged the government was malafidely indulging in "forum shopping" as it has become clear for it that it is not going to achieve anything "significant" in the review petition. He said government has already on April 12 moved the Supreme Court with a Presidential Reference for its opinion on issues arising out of its 2G spectrum judgement including whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory and the verdict be given retrospective effect for radio waves granted since 1994.

While Bhushan was opposing the withdrawal of review petition, the bench said everything is clear in our judgment. However, the bench said it will not make any comment on the presidential reference made by the Centre. "We cannot say when the reference is listed before the bench. But the court can refuse to answer the presidential reference," the bench said. Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy has also opposed the withdrawal of the review petition.

The apex court on April 13 had admitted the Government`s plea seeking review of its 2G ruling on a limited aspect that natural resources should be allotted to private companies only through "auction" but had refused to hear the affected telecom firms, whose petitions for reconsideration of the verdict cancelling their licences were dismissed.

The bench had issued notices to the NGO and Swamy, seeking their responses on the Government`s plea seeking review of the February 2 judgement by which the FCFS policy was held as flawed. In the review petition, the Centre had said it did not want to question the order on the cancellation of licenses.

Explaining the reason for the government decision, a senior Telecom Ministry official had later said "government has decided to withdraw the review petition in the 2G case as it has been admitted only on limited non-telecom related grounds and hence would serve no purpose as far as telecom is concerned."