New Delhi, Sep 17: As India is witnessing serious economic slowdown, Senior advocate Harish Salve chose to blame the Supreme Court of India for current economic crisis, saying the decline began with the apex court judgment in the 2012 2G spectrum case, when in one stroke, it cancelled 122 spectrum licences issued to telecom operators, redrawing India’s telecom industry.
“… I squarely blame the Supreme Court,” he told fellow senior advocate Indira Jaising in an interview for her legal news website
“I can understand holding people responsible for the wrong distribution of licenses in 2G… Blanket cancellation of licences where foreigners are investing… See, when a foreigner invested it was your rule which said he must have an Indian partner. The foreigner did not know how the Indian partner got a licence,” he said.
“Foreigners invested billions of dollars, and with one stroke of the pen, the Supreme Court knocked all of them out. That’s when the decline of the economy began.”
Back in 2010, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) revealed that the 2G scam had caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer. The Supreme Court had then cancelled 122 licences in February 2012, rejecting the arguments presented by Salve, who appeared for 11 telecom companies in the case.
Five years later, in December 2017, a CBI trial court acquitted former Union ministers and key accused A. Raja and Kanimozhi, along with 15 others. In doing so, the trial court opined that the scam was “conjectured” by some people who created a “scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels”.
Referring to the apex court’s judgment in the coalmine allotment case, he said, “You cancelled coalmines (allocation) by one stroke of the pen, without examining the merits of every case. Much genuine foreign investment in the coal industry went flat. Then what happened? Indonesian and other coal prices softened up. It became cheaper to import.”
He said the import of coal was putting pressure on the economy and also led to job losses.
In August 2014, the top court declared all 218 coal block allocations, from 1993 to 2011, illegal and arbitrary. The court cancelled all but four licences in September 2014.
Salve also called the top court ruling cancelling iron ore mining leases in Goa “a howler”.