Supreme Court Cancels Grant of 2G Licenses
The Supreme Court ordered on Thursday telecoms licences issued under a scandal-tainted 2008 sale be revoked, striking a decisive blow against corruption that plagues the country and roiling the world's second biggest cellular market.
The Supreme Court has cancelled the 2G licenses given by Raja to telecom companies. It has upheld that 122 licenses for 2G spectrum were granted in an “arbitrary” and “unconstitutional” manner. SC has also directed TRAI to make fresh recommendation regarding the grant of 2G licenses. A fine of Rs 5crore has been slapped on Etisalat, Uninor and TATA. The verdict has been given by a bench comprising of Justices GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly.
The licences affected include those held by Unitech Wireless, a joint venture of Norway's state-backed Telenor and Indian real estate firm Unitech (:UNTE.NSUNTE.NS), which has been the most aggressive of the newer operators and had more than 36 million subscribers in the country as of December.
The ruling applies to 122 licences held by eight operators but potentially affects fewer than 5 percent of users in a fiercely competitive market crowded with more than a dozen players.
Market leaders such as Bharti Airtel (:BRTI.NSBRTI.NS) and British-based Vodafone, which last month scored a big win when the Supreme Court ruled it was not liable for $2.2 billion in tax, are poised to benefit from the ruling.
A jubilant Dr. Swamy said, “I am satisfied with 2Gorder; country can be proud of Supreme Court. When the Trial Court has already heard Chidambaram 2G scam case, and reserved order, where is the setback? 4th Feb
Prashant Bhushan who was one of the petitioners in the 2G case, said the judgement will also help change the nature the way corruption is dealt with. He said the corporates will have to "refund the benefits" they got out of the illegal licences. He also said the judgement will help the public exchequer to recover losses caused to the grant of 2G licences by then Telecom minister A Raja in January 2008 and thereafter.
Here is the Full text judgment;