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Apr 05, 2012, 02.29 PM IST
Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar tells CNBC-TV18 that they will wait for Supreme Courtís ruling on their review petition before proceeding with the 2G auction process.
The SC today dismissed all seven review petitions of telecom companies, a few of which include Unitech Wireless , Tata Teleservices , Idea Cellular and SSTL. The government also dismissed former telecom minister A Rajaís plea , but has agreed to hear the government review petition on April 13.
As of now, Chandrasekhar says he understands the quashing of the licenses remains.
He goes on to say that TRAIís recommendations of the 2G auction is expected within a week or two,
Below is an edited transcript of his interview with Shereen Bhan and Siddharth Zarabi. Also watch the accompanying video.
Q: The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petitions filed by all telecom companies. We donít know whether there could be the possibility of an extension of that auction process period that the Supreme Court had laid out in its order, but in your own assessment, come June what happens to these licenses? Do they stand quashed, and will an interim mechanism be possible?
A: I canít really comment on what happens to licenses, we will have to study the Supreme Court order. But to the extent that that has not been questioned in the government review petition, which has been accepted, I suppose that part of the order remains.
Q: What about the auction timeline now, because we understand that the government in its petition had actually sought to say that the governmentís prerogative was decision-making and policymaking and there was a issue of judicial overreach? As far as the auction timeline is concerned, the DoT has said that it could take anywhere to about 400 days whereas the Supreme Court was very clear that they had given you a 4-month window?
A: I donít think thatís exactly the case. The Supreme Court had indicated that its order would be operational after a period of four months. We had filed a clarificatory petition in which we had indicated that for us to carry out an auction it would take approximately 400 days in our estimate and that has been filed through a separate interlocutory application with the Supreme Court.
Q: Now that this main interlocutory application has been listed for hearing, could there be any possibility of this main petition providing any sort of relief or a way out for you? Does this give you some leeway to actually consider a solution where these licenses do not get cancelled, even if they remain in suspended animation?
A: I wouldnít really like to get into a discussion on those implications when the matter is under consideration of the Supreme Court. We are happy that the Supreme Court has accepted the review petition and we will await the outcome of that review.
Q: In terms of consumers, in terms of telecom companies who are being sued by their own creditors at this point in time, the uncertainty is immense. They donít know what stands to happen to them come June. Do you believe that perhaps we could get some clarity on it? And if indeed there is no further relief given on this matter, is it possible at all for the government to go ahead with a spectrum auction to meet the Supreme Court guideline and deadline?
A: As I said earlier, the Supreme Court has not fixed a deadline for the auction and the clarificatory application was only to keep the Supreme Court informed of our plan of action in the context of their judgment. So since our review petition has been accepted and itís posted for hearing, we will await the outcome of the Supreme Court review and then we will decide on whatever needs to be done.
Q: As far as the review petition is concerned, if the Court were to consider the Government of Indiaís stance as far as policy powers and the overall issue of First Come First Serve, is there any possibility for the government to argue before the Court that it may not want to ensure that the licenses get jeopardized? Because the process TRAI has come up with will take far longer than what the Court originally had believed?
A: The interlocutory application that we have filed is a statement indicating the plans that we have and the implications of that in the context of the Supreme Court order, that is all. As far as the interlocutory application is concerned, as you have said that is not something on which any order has been passed at this particular point in time. The review petition is the one which has been accepted and listed for hearing on the 13th April and we are happy that that has been accepted and now we will await the outcome of that review. At this particular point, when these matters are subjudice, it would be difficult to make any comment beyond that.
Q: Any sense of by when TRAI could do that and by when you yourself could therefore apply your mind to come up with the final auction norms and guidelines?
A: We expect them very soon, in the next week or two at the most, and we expect to be taking action in accordance with the timelines that we have filed with the Supreme Court.
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