New Delhi, May 11: The Supreme Court will commence hearings from July 10 on a Presidential reference moved by the government for its opinion on issues arising out of its 2G spectrum judgment, including whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory.
A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia, issued notices to all states, 2G case petitioners — the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Subramanian Swamy — along with Ficci and the CII seeking their views.
The other judges on the bench were Justices D.K. Jain, J.S. Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi. The judges made it clear that they might hear other parties at a later stage.
Among other things, the Presidential reference had sought the top court’s opinion on whether auction was “the only permissible method of disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances”.
The government has contended that the auction rule for disposing of all natural resources ran contrary to those delivered by larger benches.
It has also claimed that the court’s prescription unsettles policy decisions taken by successive governments for valid reasons such as lack of public resources and the need to resort to innovative approaches for the development of various sectors of the country.
These are the questions on which states, the CPIL, Swamy, the CII and Ficci have to place their views in court.
The bench passed the short order after hearing CPIL lawyer Prashant Bhushan, attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati and senior counsel Harish Salve, who represented the telecom companies in the 2G case.
At the outset of the hearing, the attorney-general urged the court to issue notices only to the states and the petitioner. Prashant Bhushan, for the petitioners, opposed his plea saying that a reference was not maintainable under Article 143 of the Constitution.
The attorney-general objected to his arguments saying they were premature and had been rejected by the top court in some earlier cases.
Bhushan insisted that the court also hear other experts in the field before taking a call on the reference. Salve, claiming to speak on behalf of consumers of the telecom companies, urged the court to hear out the industry bodies, too. The court acquiesced to his prayer.
The government is apprehensive that such a rule will be counter-productive in some areas.
The auction of water resources will lead to a situation where it becomes a highly-priced commodity, the government feels.