Live: Sibal welcomes 'enormous clarity' of SC decision
The government had on 12 April moved the Reference signed by then president Pratibha Patil in which eight questions were raised.
3.51pm Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on SC opinion on Presidential Reference
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is clearly a happy man. "We welcome the Supreme Court opinion. SC has confirmed what the government has been saying.
In a veiled reference to CAG, Sibal added that what this meant was that no constitutional authority had the right to tell the government that it should have auctioned, when auction was not the method in use at the time.
"The Judgement is applicable to all constitutional authorities, including CAG. We had been saying that policy making comes under the purview of the government. We will take this judgement forward and implement it as far as the 122 licences cancellation of the 2G is concerned. First come, first serve policy was good at that time when it was implemented. Policy prescription has to be set up by the government. A judgement stands for what it decides."
The telecom minister added that the judgement has brought enormous clarity, and this meant that the government could now start taking decisions without fearing interference from other constitutional authorities.
Meanwhile Subramanian Swamy is not impressed with the clearly smug Sibal and promises some entertainment later tonight:
Read the full judgement copy here
3.04pm Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid to NDTV
"It is a matter of huge relief for the government. It is a matter of being vindicated on what we are trying to say again and again. Maximisation of economy is not for revenue generation for the government alone but also for opening up opportunities for the people. The judgement is the economic analysis of law. I would imagine that we will have to fine tune a few rough edges. Our stand vis-a-vis CAG is now stronger. Top court opinion will have long term impact."
2.52pm Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan
"If any natural resource is given for commercial exploitation to private entities, then it has to be by the method of auction. Any other method adopted in this regard will be considered unconstitutional and arbitrary."
2.46pm Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy on the view of the Constitution Bench
"Welcome today's judgement as landmark and historic. Today's judgement defeats the government as it upheld the SC order on the cancellation of 2G licences. Maximisation of revenue is not the only objective. Government has no right to make policy without the interference of the court if the intention is malafide, act is illegal. Auction is best when for private companies to make windfall profit. 100% satisfactory judgement for me."
2.38pm Highlights of the judgement
Allocation to top bids, may at times, be against public good. No constitutional mandate for auction
2.34pm No constitutional bar on means adopted to serve public good. All executive decisions, actions of state, open to test
2.30pm No constitutional imperative in matter of economic policies.
2.25pm Auction route not for all natural resources. It encompasses all methods that ensure public good. Public good will be decided by the policy and economy of the time and not mandated by any court. Revenue maximisation is not the only way to serve common good.
2.20pm SC order a relief for the government, experts say.
2.19pm SC holds Presidential Reference as maintainable
2.18pm Order has no bearing on the cancellation of 122 2G licences.
2.16pm Auction order restricted only to telecom spectrum. Not for all natural resources.
2.15pm SC verdict restricted to four questions out of eight.
The Supreme Court will today deliver its opinion on the Presidential Reference moved by Centre on whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory in line with its 2G spectrum judgement.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia will also decide whether the reference is maintainable or not, as it was alleged that the government tried to overrule the 2G verdict through the route of reference.
The Constitution Bench also consist of justices DK Jain, JS Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi.
The government had on 12 April moved the Reference signed by then president Pratibha Patil in which eight questions were 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 judgement 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 stated.
"Whether the court holds that within the permissible scope of judicial review that the policy is flawed, is the court not obliged to take into account investment made under the said policy including the investment made by foreign investors under the multi and bilateral agreements," it said.
It sought the court’s opinion on "whether the judgement is required to be given retrospective effect so as to unsettle the licences issued for 2G spectrum and allocated after 1994 till 2008".
The Reference also touched upon the 3G spectrum allocated through "auction" and wanted to know the implications of the judgement on it.
"Whether 3G spectrum acquired through the auction in 2010 by entities whose (2G) licences have been quashed in the judgement stands withdrawn," it asked.
A meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had on 10 April cleared the telecom ministry’s proposal to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on various issues arising out of the 2 February judgement.
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 11 May 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 GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly (since retired) had delivered a judgement on 2 February cancelling 122 telecom licences by holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional.
The bench headed by Justice Singhvi had held that all natural resources should be allocated through auction.
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