SC sets up special bench to deal with 2G cases
"There is a direction that all 2G matters be taken up by by a special bench comprising me and Justice A K Patnaik," Justice Singhvi said while hearing an appeal filed by Janata Party president Subramanium Swamy challenging the trial court`s order giving clean chit to Home Minister P Chidambaram in the scam. He directed the Supreme Court registry to take instruction from the CJI so that Swamy`s case could be heard by the special bench.
The bench was constituted as Justice A K Ganguly, who had passed the orders in the scam along with Justice Singhvi, has retired. The bench had passed a slew of judgements in the scam including the order cancelling the 122 2G spectrum licences granted by former Telecom Minister A Raja and held that first-come-first served (FCFS) policy could not be used for allocation of natural resources. It had also pulled up the PMO for sitting on the complaint filed against Raja and set a time limit of four months for the government to take a decision on granting sanction to prosecute a corrupt public servant.
In the aftermath of the apex court verdicts, several petitions have been filed seeking review, clarification and recall of its order by the Centre, telecom companies, NGOs and Raja. Swamy and NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation have moved the apex court against the trial court order giving clean chit to Chidambaram in the scam. Telecom companies— Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL) and Uninor— have sought review of the verdict cancelling their licences.
The Centre has also sought review and clarification in the 2G verdict which held that sanction for prosecution of public servants could be sought even prior to filing of complaint. It has sought review of the apex court`s January 31 verdict which blamed the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) for sitting on the plea to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for granting sanction to prosecute Raja.
Faced with the June 2 deadline when 122 licenses for 2G spectrum will stand quashed, the government has virtually sought extension of time for cancellation of licences. The main accused in the scam, Raja has also pleaded for a review of the verdict on cancellation of licences, saying it violates the "principles of natural justice" and "judicial norms" and that he was indicted without being heard. Raja, who has been in jail for more than a year, has contended the findings in the verdict against him are "bound to prejudice" his defence in the scam trial.
In a seperate application, the Centre has questioned the apex court verdict holding as unconstitutional the policy of first-come-first-served, saying it has entered into the exclusive domain of the executive and beyond the limits of judicial review. The review petition has contended the apex court`s prescription of a single method for distribution of all natural resources, including spectrum, through "auction" route is contrary to the principle of separation of powers embodied in the Constitution.