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Chidambaram claims Supreme Court’s opinion on natural resources vindicates Government

New Delhi, Sep 28 (ANI): Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court’s opinion on 2G Presidential reference, saying that the apex court’s opinion has vindicated the government’s stand.

Addressing media along with Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Chidambaram said: “We welcome Supreme Court opinion on Presidential reference. The court has categorically held that the predominant consideration is common good and not revenue maximisation.”

“We believe that the position of the government that has been articulated in the last few years-as regards various issues-the court has laid down principles which are in complete consonance with what the government has always believed and endorsed,” he added.

However, Sibal said that the judgement has brought about “enormous clarity with which government can start taking decisions without fearing there will be interference from other Constitutional authorities.”

“The judgement clearly states that policy issue is entirely within the domain of the executive, especially in the context of the economic policies,” he added.

He said many of the policies followed by the government and the previous governments are based on the principle that revenue maximisation is not the objective – court has said in that case auction is not the only way.

“It also observed that allocation to the highest bidder may sometimes run counter to public good. Court has said potential for abuse cannot be the basis for striking it down. Even auction has the potential of abuse,” he added.

The apex court on Thursday 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.

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. (ANI)