The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) told the Supreme Court Monday that auction was the only “rational and legal” way for allocating the nation’s natural resources to private parties for commercial exploitation.
CPIL said this in its response to the presidential reference seeking opinion of the court whether the allocation of natural resources for commercial exploitation across all the sectors and in all the circumstances could only be done through auction.
“…the rule of law mandate would obviously mean that if and when scarce and limited natural resources are allocated to private parties for commercial exploitation then the only rational and legal method (which minimises abuse and maximises public interest) is a properly designed transparent public auction,” the CPIL said.
“This would be consistent with … the constitution of India”, it said.
An supreme court constitution bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice D.K. Jain, Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had May 11, issued notices on reference to all states, the CPIL, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Indian Industry.
Presidential reference seeking clarity on the methodology of allocating natural resources was made April 12.
It followed the supreme court verdict of Feb 2 by which while cancelling the 122 telecom licences granted by then communications minister A. Raja, the court held that the policy of first-come, first-served was “flawed” and said auction was the only route for allocating natural resources.
The presidential reference seeking clarity on the methodology of allocating natural resources was made April 12.
The CPIL said that government could not “invoke advisory jurisdiction” of the supreme court to “question the correctness of a judgment” delivered by it.
Its reply said that the government could not raise the question of law that had already been decided by the top court.
Alleging that the government had engaged itself in forum shopping, the CPIL said: “The government has indulged in forum shopping by filing a presidential reference raising the same issues as were raised in its review petition in the 2G case, and then withdrawing the review petition after all review petitions by telecom companies were dismissed and only a limited notice was issued on the government’s own review petition.”
“The decision of this court on a question of law was binding on all courts and authorities. Hence, under the said clause, the president can refer a question of law only when this court has not decided it,” it said.
The reply said that the government contended that courts could not adjudicate on a policy and hold it to be “bad just because there was a better policy option available”.