Sinha asserted that the process used by the previous UPA regime to allocate spectrum was “faulty and dipped in corruption”.
New Delhi: Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said on Thursday that the fate of the 122 telecom licences of eight operators that were cancelled in 2012 will be decided based on the investigative agencies’ take on the acquittal of all the accused in the 2G spectrum case.
However, since the CBI is going to appeal the acquittal in higher courts, these telecom firms are unlikely to get any relief from the government, including compensation, said sources. The companies whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court included Telenor (Uninor), Sistema, Videocon, Etisalat, S-Tel, Loop, Tata (which this year was sold to Airtel) and Idea (which is in the process of merging with Vodafone).
Mr Sinha asserted that the process used by the previous UPA regime to allocate spectrum was “faulty and dipped in corruption”. He said that scarce natural resources is best allocated through auction and not on the policy of “first-come-first-serve” followed by the UPA regime by basing the spectrum on 2001 prices.
He said that Rs 1.09 lakh crore was raised from spectrum auction in 2015, and Rs 65,789 crore in 2016. Under the UPA regime, this amount stood at Rs 9,407 crore in 2012, Rs 3,539 crore in 2013 and Rs 61,162 crore in 2014.
“One thing is clear that the 2G spectrum allotment process was faulty and dipped in corruption,” he said.
The minister said Supreme Court in 2012 quashed all the 122 licences given under the then telecom minister, A. Raja, as it had held that the procedure followed by the UPA regime was wrong.
Mr Sinha said the court had observed at that time that the government had virtually gifted away an important natural resource.
“Clearly the government incurred revenue loss,” he said. “Based on the 2001 prices, spectrum was given in 2008 and instead of the first-come-first-serve policy, it became first-come-first-pay, which was arbitrary and full of corruption,” he said.
Asked if he was still of the view that there was indeed a scam even after the verdict of the lower court on Thursday, the minister said the Supreme Court had already held that the previous allotment process had been “arbitrary” and that the “decisions were being made from the power corridors”.
“The country’s apex court has already given its views that the policy was faulty and full of corruption,” he maintained.