The government has informed the Supreme Court that all natural resources cannot be auctioned.The government, in an affidavit says, auctioning all natural resources will affect India's economic growth. The government also says the judiciary cannot go into policy decisions.
In February this year, two Supreme Court judges cancelled 122 telecom licenses issued in 2008 by then Telecom Minister A Raja. The judges said that Mr Raja had manipulated the rules to show undue favours to companies that he allegedly conspired with. Mr Raja spent 15 months in jail for selling licenses at throwaway prices to ineligible firms; and is currently out on bail.
But while Mr Raja may have twisted the first-come-first-serve policy that was the rule at the time, the judges also said that this method of allocating natural resources like spectrum is "fundamentally flawed." Only an auction, they said, ensures transparency and fair pricing. The government was also told to re-allocate the cancelled mobile licenses within four months.
On April 12, the government had approached the Supreme Court through a Presidential reference seeking clarification on whether auctioning of all natural resources is mandatory as per the judgment.
A five Judge bench had directed the government, an NGO - Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Subramanian Swamy to file affidavits stating their line of arguments.
In its affidavit, the government says:
- A simplistic method of auction cannot be applied to all natural resources
- It will be counter productive and can impact the growth of economy of the country
- The distribution of natural resources cannot be limited to one method-auction only; public interest has to be kept in mind
- Allocation of natural resources involves complex technical, economical and social issues and depends on the nature and utility of the resources
- Revenue only can not be the criteria for distribution of natural resources; other factors have to be kept in mind
- A uniform policy of auctioning of natural resources is neither practical nor it subserve the common good
- Around the world allotment is done on first-come-first-serve basis. While petroleum licenses are auctioned, mining licenses are given first-come-first-serve basis the world over
- Policy of allocation cannot be static and has to be adjusted to the changing needs
- As per Supreme Court judgments, it is not for court to consider economic merits of policies
The final hearing in this case will begin from July 10.