The government plans to put on auction the circles that went without bids in the just concluded sale of 2G mobile phone spectrum, by March 31st, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said on Friday.
The "intent" is to have the auction of spectrum in four circles, including Delhi and Mumbai, before the end of the fiscal, Sibal told a news conference here.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government "was not celebrating" the flopping of the auction and will continue to move forward.
An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) "will be meeting soon" to decide on the next course of action, he said.
The auction, which lasted just two days, got total bids worth Rs 9,407.64 crore, just one-third of the minimum Rs 28,000 crore the government was expecting. The auction was a far cry from the 35-day bidding for the 3G spectrum in 2010 that got Rs 67,719 crore.
Sibal said besides Rs 9,407.64 crore from the auction, the government will also get Rs 7,936 crore by way of one-time fee to be levied on existing telecom operators holding spectrum more than a prescribed limit.
"There will be substantial net gain," Chidambaram said.
2G: Govt should move SC for re-look at Feb judgement
A senior advocate appearing for many telecom companies in the 2G spectrum matter today suggested that government should think of moving the Supreme Court for a re-look at its judgement cancelling the 122 licenses in the wake of the results of the recent auction of radio waves.
He said the result showed that the CAG assessment of presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore was "entirely baseless".
"In my view the government should ask the Supreme Court to have a re-look at the judgement and may be restore the 122 licenses," senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said.
He said the February 2 judgement of the apex court, holding that auction was the only way forward and resultant cancellation of 122 licenses, was flawed.
He said the end result of the verdict was to refund Rs 1,650 crore to each of those whose licenses was cancelled which will amount to about Rs 20,000 crore but the auction has only fetched a fraction of it and that has to be paid in a staggered manner.
"So the end result is government has suffered, licensees have suffered, the foreign joint ventures have suffered, the FDI climate has suffered, the consumer has not been benefited and finally the telecom sector has not progressed at all," Rohatgi, who is appearing for various telecom companies in courts, said.
He said the alienation of natural resources like spectrum was a policy matter and is best left to the government, especially if the object is for every citizen to have a phone at nominal cost.
Rohatgi said obviously auction cannot be the way forward as stated by the five-judge bench of the apex court.