New Delhi: The Supreme Court would hear in January a PIL filed by an NGO challenging grant of 4G licences to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL). A bench of Justices T S Thakur and Kurian Joseph fixed January 12 as the date after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said he would require time to make his submissions. During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that this case was different from the 2G case.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and RJIL on the petition of CPIL challenging the government’s decision to allow Mukesh Ambani’s company to offer voice services on its 4G spectrum.
The PIL, filed through Bhushan, had also sought quashing of the 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. The petition said that the Centre’s decision to allow voice telephony has given undue benefit of about Rs 22,842 crore to RJIL and corresponding loss to the Government and “is therefore arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory”.
It had also alleged that the company was allowed “backdoor entry” into voice telephony using BWA spectrum by paying entry fee of meagre amount of Rs 1,658 crore determined way back in 2001, a figure which has been rejected by the apex court in its February 2, 2012 judgement in 2G spectrum allocation scam case.
It had sought court’s direction to quash the March 2013 decision of the Centre, through Ministry of Communication and IT, under which it had allowed RJIL to provide voice telephonic services.
The petition had claimed that the decision not to increase the Spectrum Usage Charges to the same level as is being paid by the other operators who provide voice telephony under Unified Access Services licence, was discriminatory.