SC calls for DoTs letters on 2G spectrum

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the government to place before it the letters which allegedly reflected its "arm-twisting" policy against a Chennai-based telecom operator during the tenure of DMK MP A Raja as Telecom Minister when 2G spectrum was allocated.

The apex court asked the Department of Telecon (DoT) to place before it the two letters concerning cancellation and restoration of licence of S-Tel which had challenged the advancement of cut-off date for allocation of spectrum on first-cum-first-serve basis in September 2007.

A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly asked the government to produce the two letters written by the DoT on March 5, 2010, and April 15, 2010, after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said it reflected the "arm-twisting" policy adopted by Raja`s department against S-Tel.

The bench also asked the government to submit the notification issued on April 11, 1989, for setting up of the Telecom Commission to deal with the growth of telecom sector in the country.

The court asked Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising to submit the documents by tomorrow when it will continue the hearing on a bunch of petitions seeking cancellation of the spectrum allocated during the tenure of Raja.

The apex court`s direction came after Bhushan said when the meeting was called on the issue of spectrum, two members of the Telecom Commission, including the Finance Secretary, was not there.

The Chennai-based operator, had approached the Delhi High Court which had set aside the advancement of cut-off date by DoT for allocation of spectrum.

This was challenged by the DoT before the Supreme Court where the S-Tel changed its statement and said it would wait for its turn for spectrum.

S-Tel was alloted spectrum for six circles and was denied for rest 16 circles.

"After S-Tel compromised before the Supreme Court, its license was restored," said Bhushan alleging the DoT resorted to arm-twisting to soften the stand of the telecom operator.

Earlier, the DoT had taken the stand that the Finance Secretary and others were part-time members and it was not necessary to invite them to the meeting.

Bhushan alleged the DoT`s policy of spectrum allocation was not only "arbitrary" but was a manipulated at several stages to favour a few by A Raja and his associates.

"Date of issuance of Letter of Intent for allocation of spectrum was selectively leaked by the key persons to a few companies," he said adding some of the bank drafts submitted by the operators as performance and bank guarantee was issued from a Mumbai-based bank, which was not possible under the few hours given by DoT for applying.