SC looks for origin of first-come-first-served policy

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to clarify if its first-come-first-served policy for spectrum allocation was evolved by TRAI or the Department of Telecommunication following conflicting versions.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to clarify the matter by tomorrow as it got conflicting opinions from TRAI and the petitioner, Center for Public Interest Litigation, over the evolution of the policy.

"Whether the first-come-first-served policy was evolved by DoT or TRAI? If not by TRAI, then by DoT? At what stage was it evolved and what was the rationale behind it?" the bench posed the queries to the Attorney General.

The bench also asked the law officer to explain DoT secretary`s written statement dated November 19, 2007 in which he had said that there was abundant spectrum available for allotment, while the TRAI had been saying at that stage that the spectrum was scarce.

The bench also observed that TRAI had in 2003 and 2007 said that the spectrum is scarce and it should be used rationally but the DoT is saying that there is abundant spectrum for every operator.

The court also wanted to know why the DoT ignored TRAI`s recommendations on effective utilization of the spectrum.

"Why TRAI`s recommendation was not accepted by the DoT? If DoT thinks that it was not acceptable, then why it was not referred back to TRAI for reconsideration?," the bench asked.

The bench said it will not go by the reports of either Justice Shivraj Patil or the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

"We would not go by Justice Patil`s report as it has not been accepted or rejected by the government. We will not go even by CAG report as it is before the PAC," the court said.

The apex court`s observation comes after Additional Solicitor General Indra Jaising submitted that some of the queries raised by the bench have already been referred to in the reports of Justice Patil Committee and that of the CAG.