The Supreme Court will begin hearing from Tuesday the Centre's Presidential Reference seeking its opinion on various issues arising out of the apex court's 2G spectrum case verdict including whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia will commence hearing the Reference which has sought the apex court's view on whether the verdict in the 2G case can be given retrospective effect for radio waves granted since 1994.
The court on May 11 had issued notices and sought responses also from state governments and industrial chambers FICCI and CII on behalf of the private industries along with those of the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy.
It was on the petitions by CPIL and Swamy that a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly (since retired) had delivered its February 2 verdict, which cancelled 122 telecom licences holding that the first-come-first-served policy was illegal and unconstitutional.
The bench headed by Justice Singhvi had held that all natural resources should be allocated through auction.
The government, however, has submitted that "auction cannot be the only permissible method for disposal of natural resources" and a uniform policy on their distribution is "neither practical nor can it subserve the common good."
It also said the allocation of natural resources is a policy matter and beyond the purview of judicial review.
The CPIL has said government's Reference was an attempt to continue with its "opaque and corrupt system of allocation of the resources to big industrialists" and has "failed to point out why it is opposed to auctioning scarce natural resources and through what other methods it wishes to alienate them."
The CPIL has said the Reference was "not maintainable" and the "government has indulged in forum-shopping" and "it clearly and squarely seeks a review/appeal against the judgment of this court and also frames certain questions of law that have been clearly answered by this Court (in earlier judgement)."
The Constitution Bench also comprising justices D K Jain, J S Khehar, Dipak Misra and Ranjan Gogoi, will also determine "whether the judgement lays down that the permissible method for disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances is by the conduct of auction."
"Whether the court holds that within the permissible scope of judicial review that the policy is flawed, is the court not obliged to take into account investment made under the said policy including the investment made by foreign investors under the multi and bilateral agreements," the Reference said.
It sought the court's opinion on "whether the judgement is required to be given retrospective effect so as to unsettle the licences issued for 2G spectrum and allocated after 1994 till 2008."
The Reference also touched upon the 3G spectrum allocated through "auction" and wanted to know the implications of the judgement on it.
"Whether 3G spectrum acquired through the auction in 2010 by entities whose (2G) licences have been quashed in the judgement stands withdrawn," it asked.
The government had on April 12 moved the Reference signed by President Pratibha Patil after a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had on April 10 cleared the Telecom Ministry's proposal to seek the Supreme Court's opinion on various issues arising out of the February 2 judgement.
The two-judge bench, in its verdict, had also observed that auction was best suited route for allocating natural resources like telecom spectrum because the policy of first-come-first-serve was flawed.