Panel favours new law for transparent spectrum allocation

February 10th, 2011 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Going beyond the spectrum scam rocking the government, the one-man panel that probed the issue since 2001 has called for a legislation for transparent allocation of scarce airwaves modelled on those in Australia and New Zealand.The panel, that was headed by former Supreme Court judge Shivraj V. Patil, also sought the de-linking of spectrum allocation from grant of telecom licences, while coming down heavily on the controversial ‘first-cum-first-served’ policy that was adopted earlier.

The panel also favoured the auctioning of scarce airwaves than extending the same based on a fee, but all this after a comprehensive reform of policy, thorough study of quantum of spectrum available and detailing what has already been allotted.

“Whenever a contract is to be awarded or a licence is to be granted, there must be objectivity in the procedures for selection,” the probe panel said. “Such procedures must also be reasonable, fair, transparent and certain,” the panel added. “The selection of applicants must be by choice and not by chance.”

The panel said the legislation it has proposed for transparent allocation of spectrum be called Radio Communications Act, with the following objectives:

-Spectrum management including setting up of an independent high level spectrum authority

-Promoting competition

-Maximising the release of spectrum to society

-Meeting government’s economic and social policy decisions

-Formulation of appropriate procedures concerning important aspects of spectrum.

The panel, set up in December, had submitted its report Jan 31, after which a part of it was revealed by Communications Minister Kapil Sibal the same day. The full report that runs into 143 pages was uploaded on the ministry web site Thursday.

The Justice Patil Report also said that several policies and procedures were flouted in the award of airwaves, including the controversial decision of going for the first-cum-first-served basis between 2001 and 2008.

The panel was set up in the wake of the second generation (2G) spectrum scam rocking the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that had even led to the resignation of A. Raja as communications minister in November last year and his subsequent arrest Feb 2.

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