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Spectrum bidding for NE: Govt moves SC against Tripura HC interim order

The matter was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu which said that the special leave petition will be heard tomorrow.

“There is no need for urgent hearing. We will hear the matter tomorrow,” the bench, also comprising Justice A K Sikri, said. In its plea filed through Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, the Centre said the matter was urgent as today was the last day for submitting bids for the auctions process. He contended that high court has passed an interm order without even hearing them and it “completely upset the policy behind spectrum auction” and could have a “serious implication” on the entire tendering process.

The high court, in its interim order, had issued notice to the Centre on separate pleas by Bharti Hexacom Ltd and Reliance Telecom Ltd which had challenged the Centre’s notice inviting bids on the ground that it has categorically said that applicant firm has to bid for a minimum of five MHz spectrum in the 900 MHz band in the circle.

The firms had told the high court that if a company bids for a minimum of five MHz spectrum of the total 8.8 MHZ spectrum, then there cannot be two players in the field and the government would also loose revenue for the remaining 3.8 MHz spectrum. The high court, in its interim order, has observed that contentions of the firms that 3.8 MHZ spectrum would be wasted could not be accepted, as minimum of five MHZ spectrum criteria does not mean that an applicant cannot bid for 8.8 MHz radiowaves in the telecom circle.

The high court, while issuing notice to the Centre, has said the government cannot take any final decision on the issue without its permission. The high court also allowed the two firms to submit two bids each, one for 5 MHz and one of 4.4 MHz spectrum. The Centre, in its plea, said, “it is not possible for the high court to rewrite conditions of a tender document at the behest of prospective bidders.”
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