The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a PIL by an NGO challenging the grant of 4G licences to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL), with the Centre refuting the allegation of any wrongdoing. Also Read - Jio 5G service: Reliance Jio, Intel partner to develop 5G network for India
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, during the day-long hearing, posed several questions to both the Centre and the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), on the issue of spectrum usage charge and migration policy. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for CPIL, submitted that the PIL was based on the draft CAG report which had established that the spectrum for broadband wireless system was only for data and not for voice mail. Also Read - Reliance Jio introduces chatbot to answer questions regarding its 5G phone, laptop and more
Further, he alleged that spectrum bid was a ‘benami’ bid submitted by company named Infotel, which was acquired by Reliance group hours after it had won the 20 MHZ spectrum. Infotel had submitted a bid of Rs 12,000 crore and the company was transfered to Reliance on the day of the bidding, he claimed. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
However, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Reliance, submitted that the draft CAG report was not correct as somebody had planted information to the CAG. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said there was a policy for migration which was permissible and independent of spectrum, adding that licence was separate from spectrum. When the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, told the Solicitor General that the NGO has challenged the March 2012 decision of the Centre allowing the migration, he said it was according to the policy decision.
Salve also said the policy was not under challenge and it was only the decision to allow Reliance to migrate that was. When the bench wanted to know where was the decision to migrate, it was told that such a decision was in the official file.
“We would like to see what is the decision and how the decision is illegal,” the bench said and asked the Centre to file written submission on the entire issue.
Bhushan claimed that while Reliance was paying a spectrum usage charge of one per cent, the other companies were charged higher upto five percent.