SC rejects PIL claim of Rs 37,000 cr spectrum loss
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain a PIL that alleged a whooping loss of Rs 37,000 crore to the exchequer on account of private telecom operators inflating their subscribers base to garner the scarce spectrum.
The petition alleged that besides causing the huge loss, the modus operandi adopted by the telecom operators posed serious threat to national security as thousands of SIM cards were distributed free of cost without basic verification.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and H L Dattu sought to know from counsel Subhash Sharma locus standi of the petitioner "Aam Admi", an NGO, and said it was not inclined to entertain the PIL as no sufficient materials were placed before it.
"We want to know how many PILs you have filed earlier.
Your petition is relying only on newspaper clippings. There is no independent material," the bench told the counsel while dismissing the petition.
Founder of the NGO-Avishek Goenka in his petition claimed that the telecom companies provide a deceitful data of the total numbers of subscribers so as to inflate the subscribers base and illegally capture huge spectrum.
"This approach is adopted by the telecom companies with an idea to keep on acquiring extra spectrum, whose monetary value is very high as well as the same is a scarce national resource owing to the fact that it is a vital utility element for defence organisation.
"In view of loss of such high magnitude coupled with concern of security of the country, the petitioner is praying for mandamus and other appropriate writ or directions in the nature of of proper audit and foolproof scrutiny in order to ascertain real and factual subscribers` base to curtail the plunder and misuse of spectrum a national wealth," the petition said.
The petitioners cited certain illustrations to allege that free SIM cards with "free talk time" were being allocated to benami subscribers to inflate the base and claim spectrum accordingly.
"The telecom companies lure the customers with various promotional offers/schemes and in order to live up to the competition of the telecoms sector of having the maximum subscriber base the service providers are selling the pre-paid SIM cards without proper verification of the address of the subscriber and in this manner they are rendering the life and property of Indian citizens and national security into peril," the petition alleged.
It urged the court to direct the Centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to "conduct audit and weed out" the bogus subscribers.