The Supreme Court reserved its order on petitions seeking cancellation of 122 licences of telecom operators who allegedly benefited in the 2G spectrum allocation scam during the tenure of former telecom Minister A Raja.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly concluded its proceedings after hearing extensively from all the concerned companies, government and the petitioners.
In their joint petition, a group of civil societies, including an NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation alleged that the spectrum allocation, made by the DoT during Raja''s tenure as telecom minister, was marred by "multiple illegalities, corruption and favouritism".
The other petitioners in this case are Telecom Watchdog, Common Cause, former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh, T S Krishnamurthy and N Gopalaswami along with former Central Vigilance Commissioner P Shankar.
The petitioners contended that even the sectoral regulator TRAI has recommended cancellation of 69 out of the 122 licences as the licencees have failed to roll out their services in time as per the conditions stipulated for grant of licences.
The bench had earlier issued notices to 11 private telecom companies, which were granted licences despite allegedly being ineligible to secure them or had failed to launch services within stipulated time-frame.
The private telecom companies which were issued notices included Etisalat, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon, S-Tel, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet Wireless, Vodafone-Essar along with TRAI.
The telecom companies which have come under scrutiny for having benefited in 2G spectrum scam, however, refuted any illegality in allotment of spectrum and told the Supreme Court that allocation of the air waves since 2003 should be scrapped if the first-come-first-served policy adopted during Raja's tenure as telecom minister is to be held illegal.
The court proceeding in the case witnessed a virtual telecom war with the old service providers contending that spectrum alloted to them are valid and they should not be compared with new players whose licenses are under the judicial scrutiny.
Established companies Vodafone and Aircel opposed the contentions of Swan, Videocon and Shyam Telecom which had pleaded that if the court decides to cancel their allotment of spectrum, it should be applied retrospectively from 1995 as the natural resources have been alloted under the same policy.