Supreme Court allowed the government to finalise the auction of telecom spectrum

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Apex Court allowed the government to finalise the auction of telecom spectrum on Thursday and winners will be announced but it will be with a caveat and also that the finalisation of the results must be subject to outcome of the cases being heard by the Supreme Court.

After 19 days on Wednesday,the telecom auction was concluded with a total bid commitment of nearly Rs 109,874.91 crores from 8 players which is the biggest and fiercest auction of telecom spectrum and it may trigger fears of hike in call and data rates. Many incumbents like Airtel, Idea and Vodafone had bid aggressively to protect their business along with the new players like Reliance Jio who participated in the auction and it lasted for 19 days and saw 115 rounds of bidding.

Submissions by Attorney General MukulRohatgi and rival counsel which included P. Chidambaram appearing for telecom service providers were recorded. A bench of Justice DipakMisra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant said: “We are inclined to modify the order to the extent that the Union of India would be at liberty to finalize the auction and proceed thereafter.”

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Rohatgi told the court that the auction was a tremendous success because of fierce bidding and asked the court if it modified its February 26 Order government can collect an amount of Rs 28,000 crores which is mentioned in the budgetary proposals. Chidambram and Gopal Jain appearing for the telecom service providers said that the competitive bidding was not actually competitive but a compulsive bidding since the parties did so because they have to survive the competition.

Spectrum in 900 Mhz band received the maximum bid of Rs 72,964.54 crore. The 3G spectrum and 1800 Mhz spectrum contributed Rs.10,115.41 crore and Rs.9,636.17.

Chidambram contesting this told the court that they were attacking the entire design of the Notice Inviting Tenders (NIT) and it is flawed but the court said if the NIT is absolutely unconstitutional then automatically auction will go and posted the matter to next hearing on April 16.  However as per the court’s order names of the winners have not been disclosed.

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by Sushma Javare.