No undue favour done by the Government towards Reliance Jio by allowing it voice telephony at Rs. 1,658 crores

Supreme Court: In the matter where the decision of the Government of India allowing voice telephony to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. on payment of Rs.1, 658 crores entry fee was challenged on account of undue favour being given to the respondents, it was alleged that  in normal course grant of this license would have fetched a whopping sum of Rs.25000 crores approximately and also that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had not revised the Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) matching with the charges which are paid by other operators who bought voice telephony.

Rejecting the aforesaid contention, the Court said that TRAI, in its recommendations, had not prescribed any additional fee to be charged for migration of ISP operators with Broadband Wireless Access (BWS) spectrum to UL regime. Instead, it had stated that the BWA spectrum assignee, whether holding a UAS license or ISP licence and the scope for provision of services would be uniform under the Unified License. It is only entry fee which is prescribed and that too Rs. 15 crores, hence, it cannot be said that any wrongful loss has been caused to the Government.

Regarding the policy decision of migration from broadband wireless access to Unified License Regime, the bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and Dr. A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi, JJ, held that it was a pure policy decision after due deliberations by the experts in the fields and even TRAI had recommended allowing such migration. Such a policy decision, when not found to be arbitrary or based on irrelevant considerations or mala fide or against any statutory provisions, does not call for any interference by the Courts in exercise of power of judicial review. [Centre for Public Interest for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 301, decided on 08.04.2016]

To read the Judgment, click HERE

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