New Delhi, July 18: The Supreme Court today decided against ruling piecemeal on the presidential reference the government had moved seeking clarity on whether the auction-only route for allocation of spectrum would apply to all natural resources.
A bench, hearing arguments for the last eight days on whether the court should hear the reference at all, indicated that it would take a composite view after hearing all the stakeholders.
“We will hear the matter on the entire issue. We will decide the reference on merits and also on the initial objection on its maintainability at the end,” the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, said.
The government had moved the reference in April, a couple of months after a two-judge bench had scrapped 122 spectrum licences awarded on a first-come-first-served basis during former telecom minister A. Raja’s tenure.
The 2G bench had then directed the government to follow the auction route in transferring scarce and valuable resources to private entities.
The terms of the reference, which virtually sought to reopen the 2G case, also wanted the court’s opinion on whether it could interfere in “policy” decisions of the government.
The bench had so far been concentrating on whether to hear the reference at all. It had heard out arguments at length from attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati and the lawyers for industry body CII, commerce chamber Ficci and the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.
Soli Sorabjee, the counsel for the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation on whose PIL the 2G judgment had come, objected to the court hearing the reference. “In substance, ignore the form, the government is seeking to overturn the 2G judgment,” he contended.
But Vahanvati argued that 2G bench’s auction-only judgment could not be binding in the case of other natural resources as arguments were never heard on this from any of the stakeholders.
Today, after hearing the attorney-general’s objections against any piecemeal decision, Justice Kapadia said the bench would hear arguments at length on the merits of the reference.