SC refuses to rely on Chawla panel report on natural resources

New Delhi:The Supreme Court today refused to rely on a report of a high-level committee, headed by former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla, favouring auction as the route for disposal of natural resources, saying the report is yet to be accepted by the government.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, while delivering its opinion on the Presidential Reference arising out of the apex court’s February 2 verdict on the 2G spectrum, refused to consider the Chawla Committee Report’s recommendations, also saying that it conducts an economic analysis of the means of disposal of natural resources.

“Since the opinion rendered in the Chawla Committee Report is pending acceptance by the Government, it would be inappropriate for us to place judicial reliance on it.

“Besides, the report conducts an economic, and not legal, analysis of the means of disposal of natural resources. The purpose of this Reference would be best served if this court gave a constitutional answer rather than the economic one,” the bench also comprising justices D K Jain, J S Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi said.

The report was brought to the notice of the apex court by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, who had said the government has told Parliament on August 9 that the Chawla Committee’s recommendations on allocation of natural resources through competitive bidding have been accepted.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati, who had refuted the claims and contentions of Swamy, had said it is factually incorrect that the Chawla Committee’s recommendations have been accepted by the EGoM in its meeting of October 14, 2011.

The report on allocation of natural resources prepared by the Chawla Committee, has produced a copious conceptual framework for the Government of India on the allocation and pricing of scarce natural resources viz. coal, minerals, petroleum, natural gas, spectrum, forests, land and water, Swamy had said.

Swamy had opposed the Reference contending that as the government has got the answers from the Chawla Committee on the questions posed in the Reference, it was not necessary for the apex court to answer it.

He had submitted that out of the 81 recommendations, 69 have been accepted by the government based on recommendations of the GoM on Corruption headed by the then Finance Minister.