POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 02, 2012 AT 21:25 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 21:25 IST

Vinod Mehta, Outlook's editorial chairman, put it in perspective when he pointed out that the judgement today is 'a Titanic disaster for the government,' coming as it does just before the UP elections, thus making it difficult for Congress to talk about Ms Mayawati's corruption.

'It effectively cooks Mr Raja's goose and the noose is getting closer and tightening around Mr Chidambaram. What remains to be seen,' he added, 'is the domino effect and how long they would be able to protect the Prime Minister and keep him isolated, because so far his defence was that he went by the advice of his finance minister.'

Mr Mehta also invoked the Radia tapes in this connection and pointed out that one just needs to connect the dots between the conversations in those tapes and what happened — lobbying for certain ministerial positions, the nexus between various corporate houses and many of those exposed in those tapes.

But it is not just about the political fall out, which is bound to ensue. Also at stake is not just the future of telecom particularly in the markets affected by the cancelled licences, but also government policy with respect to other natural resources.

Among the 122 licences issued in January 2008 on first-come first-serve basis by the then telecom minister A.Raja, Uninor was allotted 22 pan India licences, Loop 21, Sistema-Shyam 21, Etisalat-DB 15, S Tel 6, Videocon 21, Idea 9 and Tatas 3. [Medianama offers a nice at-a-glance graphic that tabulates the effect this judgement will have]

Does it necessarily follow that the government would be caught up in prolonged and protracted litigation with these affected companies, thereby causing uncertainty for subscribers, fresh investors and existing lenders such as banks?

Or would the government, as suggested by the court, be able to work out satisfactory arrangements, under TRAI's revised guidelines, while re-auctioning and allotting licences?

R. Sukumar of the Mint notes:

...because it is likely that some affected telcos will now choose to operate in fewer markets (which means their arrangement with the government will be for fewer licences than they originally had), and because it is also certain that some telcos, the ”really guilty” ones will not be allowed by the government to do anything of the sort, a significant amount of spectrum will become available for existing telcos not affected by the 2G case (think Bharti Airtel for starters). Some of the spectrum is in lucrative markets such as Delhi and Mumbai. Need we say more?

Almost all analysts, including Mr Sukumar, seem to indicate that the judgement is likely to result in rising tariffs -- significantly in the affected markets. 

But most importantly, the judgment sets a precedent in para 69, which is bound to prove contentious in the times to come:

When it comes to alienation of scarce natural resources like spectrum etc., the State must always adopt a method of auction by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons may participate in the process. Any other methodology for disposal of public property and natural resources/national assets is likely to be misused by unscrupulous people who are only interested in garnering maximum financial benefit and have no respect for the constitutional ethos and values.

Clearly, this would apply not just to Spectrum, but also to the other contentious areas such as minerals and mining, and oil and gas.

And, of course, the court also had some words of praise:

Before concluding, we consider it imperative to observe that but for the vigilance of some enlightened citizens who held important constitutional and other positions and discharge their duties in larger public interest and Non Governmental Organisations who have been constantly fighting for clean governance and accountability of the constitutional institutions, unsuspecting citizens and the Nation would never have known how scarce natural resource spared by the Army has been grabbed by those who enjoy money power and who have been able to manipulate the system

[Read the full text of the judgement here]

Some of the reactions on Twitter:

POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 02, 2012 AT 21:25 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 21:25 IST
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Daily Mail
Feb 05, 2012
02:27 PM

Little hope shown when Annaji started the agitation and thousands woke up for a just cause, but look at it now the dynasty succeeded to thwart the attempt. The media played the villain again./........

Somu Nair
Changanassery, India
Feb 05, 2012
11:27 AM


I bet that nothing will happen to UPA 2 Govt.  Nothing ever will.Kapil Sibal will continue his stint. PC will continue his stint. DMK will put two replacement  ministers in place of Raja and Daya. Media will ensure that people forget 2G scam. Next election is 26 months away. Life goes on.Outlook and other media will continue to push the case of Prince Rahul as the new hope for India.

2014 April will come ... Outlook and the MSM will celebrate "India Shining" and push opinion polls which favour Mr Clean aka Rahul Gandhi as the most promising PM candidate... And elections will happen. And ballot box is where we will get the real verdict on 2G scam.

Till then, Jai Soniaji, Jai Rahuji, Jai Congress, Jai Secularism !! Long live dynasty.

Delhi, India
Feb 04, 2012
02:58 PM

Supreme Court Judgement on the 2G PIL is welcome. But following things remains to be adressed.

> The media has made this suspension of the licences as if corruption & the corrupt has been punished. Not so. It is strange that the SC has not ordered the government to fix responsibility for this huge loss to the exchequer to the tune of ` 1.76 lack crore & punish the guilty.

> Suspension of unified license for 2G spectrum allocation by Raja really do not punish those who entered in to conspiracy with him. It is clear that the court accepted the fait accomplii of making only Raja a scapegoat. The licences were given way back in 2006. Eshtablishes players has already reaped benefit of cheap lincences obtained through illegal means. Most of the new players & even an eshtablished giant industrial house has traded off spectrum cornered illegally in name of equity infusion & went home with huge premiums. As far as I can make out , the court is silent on these spectrum traders &  they will be allowed to get away with their windfall trading profit. This effectively aproves  premium on illegal act.

> The court in their wisdom went out of its way to remark that the Prime Minister was in dark while it was evident even to a casually interested person while all this was happening that the PM, then FM , the entire  cabinet was in the loop. The PM on several occassion justified what happened & confirmed the no loss Sibal theory.

> Sending back the Chidambaram issue back to the special trial court is in way giving total releif to him. Maximum  the trial court may do is to order an enquiry against him. Then this enquiry , chargesheet , trial , verdict by the junior court , innummerable appeals to the superior courts at every stage of these proceedings etc. may effectively see him through his natural political life. ( The maze of enquiries , innumerable cases , appeals  etc. for the last 10 years in Gujarat riot cases has  created enough confusion & smoke screen that Modi is  now being promoted as a PM option while not even a delequent daroga has not ben  meted out justice, will serve as an example ). Chidamabaram is a political light weight but a business circle heavyweight which will serve him in good stead.

>The court has not commented on the delequent corporates nor has prescribed any restriction on them in government dealings. The biggest gainer of this verdict is those companies who were allotted these now cancelled 122 unified licences.

Feb 03, 2012
09:12 PM
Comment removed for violation of Website Policy
a k ghai
mumbai, India
Feb 03, 2012
04:58 PM

Uma and BJP's primary duty now is to work out regarding, how to convey this massive corruption by UPA  to common voter in the simplest of languages.Infact,they should form a team which would formulate the meaning of what all are happening, for a common voter to understand.By the time the Italian family is exposed,the UP elections will be over,with people being swayed by the missionary propoganda of the Italian mother,son and the daughter.

Bangalore, India
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