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The Supreme Court Wednesday said if security concerns were not taken care of in the allocation of telecom licences then it could have serious consequences for the country.

‘We are not experts, but if these things are not taken care then the sensitive information even about army operations could fall in wrong hands,’ Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly said.

The observation came in the course of the hearing of the petition by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking cancellation of 2G licences to telecom operators on the grounds of wrong doings by the telecom department and the failure of service providers in meeting their roll-out obligations.

The court’s concern about possible compromise on national security was echoed when it asked how could the applicants be given just 45 minutes to collect their letter of intent and comply with its requirements.

‘The processing (of applications) takes time. There is a security angle. In two cases the security angles are being probed into. The objection of the ministry of home affairs are much more serious. They become threat to the internal and external security of the country’, the court said.

At another point the court wanted to know if the telecom operators had an inside information as to what was coming from the telecom department and thus they were ready with all formalities, including bank drafts and guarantees.

‘Record suggests that some people knew in advance (about the preponing of the date). We still don’t understand how the prime minister’s advice was bypassed. How is it possible that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations of 2005 were not accepted’, the court asked.

Senior counsel C.S. Sundaram, appearing for telecom operators, said that any deviation of the first-come-first-serve policy of 2003 in respect of later entrants would have created unequal playing field.

Reacting to it, the court asked: ‘Has it ever happened that plots are being allotted today at the same rate as in 1980. Is that ever done?’

Sundaram said that the same policy was being continued since 2003. ‘It may be wrong. May be people (DoT) did it out of innocence,’ he said.

At this, the court said that they are not so innocent.

They are bright and smart people capable of understanding fully well as to what and whose interest they were protecting, the judges observed.

The hearing will continue Thursday.

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