2G auction: SC directs government to complete process by January 11

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The Supreme Court Monday while extending the deadline has asked government to complete the auction for 2G spectrum by January 11, 2013. 

It also warned that failure to meet the revised deadline would led to “contempt” proceedings against erring officials as well as an “exemplary” fine on the Centre.

The apex court permitted companies whose permits had quashed to operate until January 18, 2013, after the government had sought more time to complete the auction process.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, which extended the August 31, 2012 deadline for completing the auction process, made it clear that no court in the country will entertain any plea on this issue of 2G spectrum. It said existing licencees of the 2G spectrum, who had to shut down the operation by September 7, are “entitled to operate upto January 18 next year.”

Meanwhile the government on Monday said that the 2G spectrum auction process will start in November. The final list of bidders allowed to take part in the auction for second-generation (2G) will be decided by November 6 and the bidding will take place on November 12, the telecom ministry said in a statement.

Bids will be received until Oct. 19 and the final list of bidders who will be allowed to participate in the auction will be decided by Nov. 6, the telecom department said in a notice on its web site.

The Supreme Court on February 2 this year cancelled 122 spectrum licences allotted during the tenure of the former telecom minister A Raja. These licences were believed to be rigged.

The government said that it was seeking to achieve a “market determined price of spectrum, through a transparent process” while also trying to “stimulate competition” and maximise revenues.

Earlier this month it set the reserve price for the auction at 140 billion rupees ($2.5 billion) for a 5-megahertz slot covering all of India’s 22 telecom service areas.

The government again sought time until Nov. 12 from the top court to start the auction and another 40 days from the completion of the process to allocate the bandwidth to the successful bidders.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal said the government is committed to conducting spectrum auction as per timeline suggested by the Supreme Court.

“We placed our difficulties before the court and the court had been kind enough to agree with that. Not only we are hopeful, but we are committed that the auction will take place within the timeline suggested by us to court,” Sibal told reporters here.