Centre’s spectrum policy comes under judicial scrutiny

Centre’s spectrum policy comes under judicial scrutiny

New Delhi: The spectrum allocation policy followed by the Centre in recent years has come under judicial scrutiny as the Delhi High Court sought response from the government on a petition challenging the policy.

A bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar issued notice to the government and fixed the matter for further hearing on 10 December.

The petition filed by an NGO, Telecom Watchdog, contended that the government alloted the spectrum without following any policy and cellular operators were provided excess spectrum without charging them for the scarce resource since 2001.

“The government should withdraw the excess spectrum from the operators by applying the tougher of the two spectrum allocation norms suggested by TRAI and TEC," contended advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO.

The Court, however, refrained from issuing notice to cellular companies.

Bharti Airtel, however, opposed the plea of the petitioner and contended that the petition is a proxy one filed by Reliance Communications.

“Reliance Communications has filed this petition. It is a proxy petition filed by the NGO. The prayers in this petition are the same as in the petition filed by Reliance Comm before TDSAT," Bharti’s counsel pleaded.

The Court, however, was not satisfied with this contention, and issued notice to the Centre, which was accepted by the Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra.

“If we find the government needs to respond on a policy issue then we have to issue notice. We would like to hear you also on 10 December," the Court said.

Earlier, the court had issued notice to the government on a petition challenging the government’s policy of ‘first come first served’ followed by it in allocation of 2G spectrum.

The court will hear both the petitions on 10 December.