SC dismisses petition against grant of 4G licences to Reliance Jio
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL challenging the grant of 4G licences to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), saying no undue favour was shown to the firm by the government and there was no loss to the exchequer.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said the government's decision permitting migration of the telecom licenses to unified license (UL) regime was "valid, legal and without any blemish". The bench junked the petition of NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), challenging government's decision to allow RJIL to offer voice services on its 4G spectrum.
The apex court also dealt with the issue of spectrum usage charge (SUC) but it did not pass any order on this, observing that a committee, which was formed, has submitted its report and a decision on it was likely in two months.
"The decision on the report is expected in two months. In view of the aforesaid developments, for the time being, we leave the matter to the Government to take an appropriate decision in this behalf," the bench, also comprising justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, said. "We find no merit in this writ petition which is, accordingly, dismissed," it said.
The PIL, filed in 2014 through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had sought quashing of permission granted by the government to Reliance for providing voice telephony on Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum and pitched for a court-monitored CBI investigation in the alleged Rs 40,000 crore scam.
It had alleged that decision allowing voice telephony to RJIL on payment of Rs 1,658 crores entry fee was a pittance as in normal course, grant of this license would have fetched a whopping sum of Rs 25,000 crores approximately.
The bench, in its 55-page judgement, noted that a policy decision was taken by the government not only with regard to introduction of unified licensing regime but it also included allowing migration to UL from Unified Access Services Licence as well as internet service providers (ISP) to UL regime.
"Such a policy decision, when not found to be arbitrary or based on irrelevant considerations or mala fide or against any statutory provisions, does not call for any interference by the Courts in exercise of power of judicial review," it said.