The Supreme Court Friday directed that the "entire" licenses quashed by it for 2G spectrum be auctioned without "further delay" and those telecom firms which were unsuccessful and did not participate in the auction process will cease to operate "forthwith".
The apex court also held that those companies which benefited by its interim orders to continue with operations following the quashing of their licenses by its February 2, 2012 verdict will have to pay the reserve price fixed by the government for the purpose of conducting auction in November 2012.
It said the successful bidders should be allowed to operate in those circles/areas where the existing service providers have lost the licenses.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan clarified that its directions will have no bearing on the allotment of spectrum in 900 MHZ band which was not the subject matter of the petitions leading to scrapping of 122 licenses for 2G spectrum in 22 circles.
The bench also clarified that the liabilities of those telecom companies which on scrapping of their licenses discontinued their operations since the date of judgement will be decided separately.
In its 12-page order, the bench said, "We have considered the respective submissions. In our view, once the licenses granted to the private respondents on or after January 10, 2008 and subsequent allocations of spectrum were quashed by this court, the government is duty bound to auction the entire spectrum, which became available as a result of such quashing and it cannot avoid compliance of the court's order in guise of acting on the recommendations made by TRAI."
While acting tough on the telecom companies, which took benefits of its interim orders, the bench said, "Such of the licensees, who continued operations after February 2, last year, whether or not they gave bid in the auction conducted on November 12 and 14, 2012, shall pay the reserve price fixed by the government for the purpose of conducting auction in November 2012.
"The licensees, who did not give bid in the auction conducted on November 12 and 14, 2012 or who remained unsuccessful shall forthwith discontinue their operations in the concerned circles/areas and the successful applicants should be allowed to operate in those circles/areas."