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D. Raja wants Supreme Court verdict on 2G presidential reference examined

New Delhi, Sep 27 (ANI): Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja on Thursday said the Congress-led UPA Government cannot claim that the Supreme Court’s clarification on 2G presidential reference has vindicated its stand, and added that the details of the judgement need to be examined and studied.

Raja said the Supreme Court judgement would have far reaching implications because government is the owner of natural resources, be it spectrum, coal or natural gas.

“When government disposes, distributes or sells the natural resources, the government should see which method, route will benefit the country and people maximum. In case of 2G, the Supreme Court has made very clear that auction should have been the best route, competitive bidding,” said Raja.

“In case of coal, natural gas or other natural resources, there is an ambiguity,” he added.

The CPI leader further said the verdict of the apex court appears that it has left the decision to the government of the day.

“It means government can fix the price, can distribute natural resources through discretion. This discretion route has caused huge loss for the country and people in case of coal block allocations that is huge profit for the private and corporate bodies,” he added.

Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal earlier in the day welcomed the Supreme Court’s clarification on 2G presidential reference, saying the verdict validates government’s point of view.

Sibal said the apex court has confirmed what the government has been saying.

“We welcome the Supreme Court judgement. We had been saying that policy making comes under government’s purview. The judgement has brought about enormous clarity. The judgement is applicable to all Constitutional authorities, including the CAG,” Sibal said.

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that the government is the responsible for policy. There is no constitutional provision that mandates auction. I just want to say that at last we have clarity on the issue; whether it is a vindication of this or that is not for me to say,” he added.

The Supreme Court earlier today stated that the auction route should be adopted only for the allocation of telecom spectrum, and not for all natural resources.

The apex court gave its advisory opinion on the presidential reference moved by the Centre on whether all natural resources be auctioned in line with its 2G spectrum judgment, or the directive be confined to spectrum alone.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, and comprising of Justices D.K. Jain, J.S. Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi, ruled that auction is an economic choice, and not a constitutional one.

The apex court said that auction is “not the only route” for allocation of natural resources and maintained that public interest must be kept in mind.

The Supreme Court further said that it may undertake a judicial review of the government’s policies, but left the formulation of policies to the government’s discretion.

The government had on April 12 moved the reference signed by the then President Pratibha Patil in which eight questions have been raised, including whether there could be judicial interference in policy matters, vis-a-vis disposal of natural resources and investments made by foreign investors under multi and bilateral agreements.

“Whether the judgment lays down that the permissible method for disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances is by the conduct of auction,” the reference had stated.

A meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had on April 10 cleared the telecom ministry’s proposal to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on various issues arising out of the February 2 judgment.

The two-judge bench, in its verdict, had also observed that auction was best suited route for allocating natural resources like telecom spectrum because the policy of first-come-first-serve was flawed.

The bench had on May 11 issued notices to the state governments and industrial chambers FICCI and CII and sought their responses on behalf of the private industries.

The court had also issued notices to the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy on whose petitions a bench comprising justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly (since retired) had delivered a judgment on February 2, cancelling all 122 telecom licenses by holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional. (ANI)