2G: SC to hear Presidential Reference from tomorrow

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will begin hearing from tomorrow the Centre`s Presidential Reference seeking its opinion on various issues arising out of the apex court`s 2G spectrum case verdict including whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia will commence hearing the Reference which has sought the apex court`s view on whether the verdict in the 2G case can be given retrospective effect for radio waves granted since 1994.

The court on May 11 had issued notices and sought responses also from state governments and industrial chambers FICCI and CII on behalf of the private industries along with those of the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy. It was on the petitions by CPIL and Swamy that a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly (since retired) had delivered its February 2 verdict, which cancelled 122 telecom licences holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional.

The bench headed by Justice Singhvi had held that all natural resources should be allocated through auction. The government, however, has submitted that "auction cannot be the only permissible method for disposal of natural resources" and a uniform policy on their distribution is "neither practical nor can it subserve the common good."

It also said the allocation of natural resources is a policy matter and beyond the purview of judicial review. The CPIL has said government`s Reference was an attempt to continue with its "opaque and corrupt system of allocation of the resources to big industrialists" and has "failed to point out why it is opposed to auctioning scarce natural resources and through what other methods it wishes to alienate them."