2G spectrum auctions: Has the matter been resolved?

By Vivek Vashi and Prakritee Yonzon, Bharucha & Partners
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The Supreme Court of India, by its judgment dated 2 February 2012, declared illegal and quashed 122 licences issued to private telecom players on 10 January 2008. Subsequently, the Cellular Operators Association of India and Idea Cellular Ltd filed writ petitions before the Supreme Court impugning the decision by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to withhold spectrum released as a result of the judgment.

Vivek_Vashi_-_Bharucha_&_PartnersThe petitions were based of the following grounds: (1) paragraphs 81(i)-(iv) of the judgment were synergetic so the entire spectrum released ought to have been auctioned; (2) by restricting the amount of spectrum to be auctioned, the DoT was creating an artificial scarcity; (3) this scarcity resulted in artificially high reserve prices; (4) the DoT had failed to implement the directions given in the judgment by incorrectly referring only to 122 licences being cancelled instead of 141 blocks of spectrum allocations that were freed up totalling 514.8 MHz of GSM spectrum and 60 MHz of CDMA spectrum.

Half of the freed spectrum made available was finally auctioned on 12 and 14 November 2012, albeit unsuccessfully. The government was able to raise only a quarter of the targeted revenue, with no bids from the four key regions including the metro cities of Delhi and Mumbai.

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Vivek Vashi is the mainstay of the litigation team at Bharucha & Partners, where Prakritee Yonzon is an associate.

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