Feb 022012

Dealing a major blow to the
Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government the Supreme Court on
Thursday cancelled all 122 telecom licences allotted under the 2G spectrum on or
after January 10, 2008. All additional spectrum given to incumbents on or after
January 10, 2008 have also been cancelled.

While cancelling the licences the Supreme Court ruled that 85 out of the 122
licences were outside the eligibility criteria for allocation. The apex court
said that the 122 licences for 2G spectrum were granted in an arbitrary and
unconstitutional manner.

The licences, which were allotted by former telecom minister A Raja, will be
cancelled in four months from now and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
(TRAI) must go in for a fresh issue of licences during this period, the apex
court observed.

A penalty of Rs 5 crore has been imposed on Unitech Wireless Ltd (Uninor),
Swan Telecom and Tata Telecom. A penalty of Rs 50 lakh has also been imposed on
Loop, S-Tel, Allianz and Sistema Shyam.

The licences cancelled include 21 of Videocon, 22 of Unitech Wireless Ltd
(Uninor), nine of Idea, 21 of Loop, six of S-Tel, 21 of Sistema, three of Tata,
13 of Swan and two of Allianz.

The Supreme Court also asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to
give status report on the investigation into the 2G scam to the Central
Vigilance Commission.

Raja has been accused of masterminding the multi-crore 2G scam and is
presently lodged in the Tihar Jail in Delhi.

In another critical judgement, the Supreme Court referred the matter of
whether the role of former finance minister P Chidambaram should be investigated
back to the trial court of Justice OP Saini. This represents a breather for
Chidambaram, but it does not lift the cloud over him.

The apex court also refused to direct the CBI to probe the alleged role of
Chidambaram in the case and asked trial court to decide on the Home Minister
within two weeks.

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