Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Am I Confused?

Many friends ask me about the name of my blog- ‘Confused-Ambadi’.  Well, Ambadi is the name of my home! It signifies a fulfilled dream, a new beginning, unloading of lot of accumulated baggage and a discontinuation of the past for me!

What is left is ‘Confused”. On that, I always reply in two sentences- First in jest and the second, in all seriousness:

Firstly, I tell them that it is my way of taking an anticipatory bail through the caveat that all I write is the product of a confused mind.

Then I request them to read the first ever blog that I wrote in 2008, which I reproduce below:

“Hello.. The World out there...

I am a new blogger.. Just confused about a lot of things...

To begin with let me post my biggest confusion:

What is the shape and where are the limits of this 
universe? If it has a shape it must, a limit too... right? If so, what is beyond the limit? If you say it is empty, again that means further space. Space without limit? I am confused!!!

Can anyone out there enlighten me?

Years have gone by and I have written on all sorts of subjects that interest me. However, I remain confused on so many subjects. Even on the ones that I wrote about, I continue to wonder if there is another side to it.  I have realised that most sincere perceptions can be far from the reality!

As for the confusion I talked about in that blog, it continues to bother me. I have tried to learn more about the subject, but without any success. Each theory only adds to the confusion.  My small mind is unable to comprehend that how can there be any object without a limit (edge), a shape and a size?!

In fact, at that time, I was focussed more towards the end of this universe- its outer limits and what could be beyond. Now, my confusion has grown in the opposite direction too, i.e., inward! Now, I am so confused about the mind and its depth too. 

What is mind? We only know what it is not. It is not heart; it is not brain; it is not sensory organs; it is not nervous system; it is not the body....  It is something more than all of these.  While there are numerous theories on what constitutes our mind, there are no clear answers. 

Can we have a larger confusion? On the one hand we do not know where the limit of our mind is and on the other hand, we have no idea as to where the outer limit of our universe is.

Our so famed and so powerful science has also been unsuccessful in cracking these two enigmas that are so fundamental to our very being!  Yet, our ignorance often forces us to believe whatever a scientist says, as gospel truth, until some other scientist manages to disprove it!  This cycle gets repeated.  New inventions and discoveries often have the ability to destroy very basic theories that we held close to our hearts for so long.

In between these two extremes of universe and mind, we are so sure of so many things.  The less we know the more we are sure. As someone said, ‘ignorance is intelligence’.   This applies not just to science but also to all aspects of our life.

We are so sure of the guilt or innocence of accused, in every criminal case, even though the investigation itself is not complete and it will take years for the judges to arrive at any verdict.  We are so sure of what should be the treatment for each patient, even though the doctors will require many a test before even finding out what the disease is.

We are so sure of the history, even though none of us have witnessed it and we all agree that it is written mostly by vested interests, according to what suited their purpose. We are even ready to kill fellow humans, to avenge the reported injustices of those distant days.  It is another matter that if the reported history does not suit our perceptions; we will even discredit the historians and re-create our own versions of history.

What to speak of philosophies, religions, and political ideologies?! The followers of each one are so convinced about the infallibility of their own and the uselessness of all others.  It is not of their concern that none of these have succeeded in providing a lasting solution to the problems that plague our world or even human beings. 

Same is the case with relationships.  Yesterday they were so sure of their love towards each other and always maintained that they can never live without each other; today they are in a bitter fight in the Family Court, seeking separation as they are again sure that they cannot live together!

The truth is always so entangled in the varying perceptions that there is no option but to be confused, if you care about the truth.  Disentangling the perceptions to arrive at the ultimate truth is proved to be the toughest challenge for human kind.  Theories presented to it as ultimate truths, on occasions, were subsequently found to be mere worthless imagination. 

Can anyone, under these circumstances, be anything but confused?

May be being confused and recognising that state of mind is a better option than being sure about anything, in this world.  It at least allows us to keep our minds open to new ideas and not to shut our eyes and ears to others’ perceptions!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why Fall in Love when you can walk into it?

I have never fallen in love!

In my childhood, I always dreamt that it would be a love marriage for me-that too an inter-religious one (having fed on an over doze of national integration!).  But as I grew, I never found that person to fall in love and ended up loving the one whom I got married to.

The closest I got to falling in love lasted only for about 15 minutes. It was during a visit to Nainital that I found this girl, who was in our own group, very attractive on account of her beauty, intelligence and soulful singing.  She became close to me and we were mostly together during the long walks.  But as soon as I started weaving my dreams around her, a very close friend of mine informed me that he has ‘fallen in love’ with her.  He wanted to marry her and sought my opinion on the suggestion.  I didn’t want to break his budding love by bringing in my own feelings. So, I decided to ‘sacrifice’ my yet unsure feelings for my friend and extended full support to him.

It is another matter that my friend, after pursuing that girl for some days, gave it up. But I hadmoved on by then and there was no question of going back into falling in love again!  I had already realised that what I felt for the girl was not love but only a consideration of the possibility that she, with all her perceived positive qualities, would be a good companion to me.

I mentioned the above incident here only to demonstrate that I do not have the relevant experience for speaking on behalf of those who have fallen in love either at first sight or even in subsequent sights.  So, they will simply have to excuse me for demystifying a wonderful thing as love and the value of self-mortification associated with it!

Love at first sight is even more baffling for me. At first sight, isn’t one only seeing a body? Is it merely a love for the body? Anyway, we won’t go into that aspect of love as that is beyond the scope of this post.

The word ‘Falling’ has a connotation of involuntariness attached to it. It sounds more like an accident forced by external factors, beyond one’s control.  It is not a conscious decision.

Any act performed without due consideration  of all relevant factors can result in either of these two outcomes- if one is really lucky, it could turn out to be a wonderful thing or if one is unlucky, it could become a nightmare.  There is no reliable statistics as to what results in majority of 'falling in love' incidences. According to one’s perception on love, one tends to say that they are all failures or they are the panacea. But truth definitely must be somewhere in between!

I can foresee my readers arguing about the failures in even arranged marriages.  I agree.  But the purpose of this post is not to compare love vs. arranged marriages.  It is only to analyse the advisability of falling in love vs. walking into love!

Even if the outcome of falling in love is 50:50, should a rational being take such chances?  More so, in a society that still values the institution of marriage and expects the love to result in marriage?   The stakes are so very high in a marriage.  The happiness or otherwise of one’s life depends on the success of marriage, to a great extent.  Even if we accept that it is becoming easier to separate from unpleasant marriages, no one really cherish the fallout of such separations either on the individuals or on the family including children.
That brings up the question- why fall in love at all? When you feel attracted to a person, why not sit back and consider all the relevant points and arrive at a rational decision? If your decision is to make that person a part of your life, in whichever form, walk into it consciously, by all means.  The chance of a more rational decision is much higher in such ‘walking into love’.

If your love meets what is good for your life in its entirety, you will still end up in love. Only difference would be that it is a conscious act and you have possibly eliminated all the pitfalls associated with it.  If these factors do not match, then you would agree that even if the love is strongest and sweet at that moment, it will sour as time goes by!  In all likelihood you will blame yourself for having ‘fallen’ into a trap!

After walking into a relationship, even if it fails- at least you will have the consolation that you did your best, yet failed. You will not blame yourself for acting in such a hasty manner and taking an irrational decision!


This ‘falling in’ vs. ‘walking into’ is not limited to love alone. If I ask you, through which nostril you breathed in last, in all probability, you would admit that you were not aware.  That is only natural.  Most of our bodily actions or reactions are not controlled by our conscious mind that is aware, but the subconscious one with no awareness.   

Subconscious mind takes actions, or reacts to external stimuli, based on the perceptions, prejudices and judgements (whatever name we may use) that are accumulated in it, on the basis of past experiences.  It is not rational. It does not consider all the aspects of a given choice. It just reacts out of habit.

These automatic actions by sub-conscious mind, in regular bodily activities, are a boon.  Think about the hassles that we would have to go through if we are to consciously activate our heart or lungs all the time.  Most likely we will forget or mis-time these vital functions sometime and end up being dead!  Also, it helps in emergency situations where conscious mind would not have the time to arrive at rational decisions and therefore our body will have to necessarily act as per the immediate reflexes.

However, our inherent laziness makes us surrender all our affairs to the subconscious mind.  Not just regular internal bodily activities but also our reactions to the external world are left to the unconscious mind to tackle with.  For example, the moment we hear a word that is recognised by the subconscious mind as an abuse, directed at us, immediately we react with hurt, anger and what not.  If we only let our conscious mind to perceive the word, the intention of the person hurling that at us and the consequences of our potential reactions to that, in all probability we will just smile at that abuser and walk away thereby denying him the pleasure of having hurt us.  Even if we decide that the abuse calls for a more stringent reaction so that it is not repeated, it would be a rational and conscious decision after considering the consequences.

Same is the situation with most of our interactions with outside world.  By letting our subconscious mind to decide our reactions we are most likely to take irrational decisions.   According to Sri Buddha (who prescribed Vipasana form of meditation to gain control over our desires and aversion (raga and dvesha) by developing an attitude of equanimity towards all sensations that our mind perceives), by training our conscious mind to take charge of our reactions to external stimuli, we can control our lives in a much better fashion!

By developing the skill of what is called ‘mindfulness’ in all our actions and reactions, we become better human beings and better decision makers. We are no more slaves of our subconscious mind and its irrationalities.  We are saved from our ‘blindness’ and prejudices.

Let us all be aware of our own body, our own mind and our own surroundings. Let us learn to consciously analyse these and arrive at rational decisions. Let us not Fall into anything, whether love or murderous rage. Let us walk into all our actions with our eyes and ears wide open.  

Let us be mindful of our own life!  That is the only way we can ensure a better life and better society!

PS:  The concepts discussed above are based on my limited understanding and logic.  I don’t claim any expertise in any of the matters discussed above. Readers are advised to arrive at their own judgement. I would really appreciate if contrary views are added to this post in the form of comments.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Power of Silence

Today, I came back from the 10 days’ Vipassana Meditation Course at Dhamma Pattana Vipassana Centre, situated close to the famous Esselworld at Gorai village, near Mumbai. Dhamma Pattana means the harbour of Dhamma (Dhamma is the Pali word for Dharma).

The last 10 days presented a totally new experience to me. Though I joined the Course out of curiosity and therefore lacked the essential Bhakti or devotion to the Course and the learning, I was determined to compensate it with Sraddha or dedication. I did not want to end up wasting my precious 10 days. So, I decided to participate in the Course with utmost dedication.

The very atmosphere and the structure of the Course were helpful in maintaining that dedication.  Only thing necessary from me was the determination to complete the Course- rest was all taken care by the Course itself. The routine that starts at 4.00 am in the morning and ends with the mandatory lights off at 9.30 pm was packed enough to make one automatically follow the otherwise strict regimen, Sheela, prescribed for the students. 

The 5 precepts or Sheela that a student had to maintain for the duration of the Course are:

1.      Refrain from intentionally harming or taking life
2.     Refrain from taking things which are not given to one (stealing)
3.     Refrain from sexual misconduct (In fact no sexual contact with either sex or any interaction with opposite sex is permitted during the course)
4.     Refrain from false speech
5.     Refrain from intoxicants like drugs, alcohol and smoking

Among these, 1, 2, 3 and 5 are mostly ensured by isolating the students from the outside world for the term of the Course. But it is the item No. 4 that is tough to ensure; either by the Centre or by the students themselves.  Remember, it is refraining from false speech and not merely lying.  Any speech which is not absolute truth amounts false speech, though may not strictly amount to lying!

According to the Acharya of the Centre, Sri S.N. Goenka, only way the new students can ensure compliance with 4th precept is by observing what is termed as the Noble Silence or Arya Moun.  Noble silence is much more than what is usually termed as Moun Vrat or vow of silence (remember the Moun Vrat of Sri Anna Hazare, where he used written communication through notes and blogs to continue his interactions with the outside world and his Anti-corruption Movement?). Apart from verbal speech, Arya Moun covers all forms of communication including signs, symbols, eye contact, writing and reading; needless to mention prohibition on use of phones, Internet, Newspapers etc.

I was curious to see the effect of this lack of any sort of communication, on the students. What I saw and experienced indeed surprised me. This convinced me that too much noise in the name of communication is arresting the true potential of human endeavours.  With little bit of practise and self control, we can achieve some level of silence in all our lives and thereby increase our effectiveness in whatever we do.

By saying this, I am not trying to support the slogan of Mrs Indira Gandhi, ‘Talk less; Wok more’, which culminated as a tool for suppression of rights during the Emergency period.  The silence that I advocate here is the self inculcated discipline for overall improvement of one’s performance and personality and not something that is enforced from outside.

Let me explain.  During our 10 days’ Course, all the students (at least to my knowledge) strictly adhered to the discipline of Arya Moun. Let us see what it did. First of all, we did not know who the next person was- as all usual factors of identity like name, caste, religion, social status, employment, were unknown to others. Similarly, no one knew anything about me. That means, there was absolute equality among all of us- each one being just another student.

Despite our number exceeding 100, each day’s routine progressed with absolute smoothness.  I attribute this success to the practise of noble silence. Be it in the meditation hall or in the dining hall, or even in the narrow track where we used to walk during the recesses (always in the same clock-wise direction so as to avoid eye contact with the person coming opposite), we moved like a well oiled machine.

There were no egos to cater to. No one had the necessity to build images about self, for oneself as well as for others. That means, no one had to indulge in what we call the sales pitch- the half truths or inflated truths or outright lies about what one is! There was no showing off of one’s greater knowledge or understanding on concepts of teaching. There was no comparison of results. Each one was following the directions of the teacher, according to his ability and faculties, thereby eliminating the chance of any competition.

I am convinced that this had helped everyone to concentrate in the task of the moment at hand rather than any unwarranted inter se exchanges.  There was no presence of stress as one is not in the rat race of competition or in the business of creating and maintaining false images.

Just consider these:

- If our work culture merely adopts this principle and reduces the number of meetings to the absolute necessity, what good it would do to our overall contribution?

- If our TV channels reduce the talk shows that involve point scorings and showing off of inflated egos and instead merely present us with the facts?

- If our politicos reduce the arguments and get to the business of governing this country better?

- If our students concentrated more in studies and acquiring knowledge than in impressing his/her friends, with false images of prestige and/or ranks? And if parents only talked less and merely let their children do their best?

- If our lawyers and Judges talked less in the court and arrived at decisions faster?

We would definitely get closer to the truth in all these situations. When we talk, we indulge in creating perceptions that suits our purpose or egos than presenting fact or truth as it stands.  This is a general human tendency and only way to reduce it is by reducing the talk itself!

The more we talk to outside world, the less we communicate with our own self and thereby miss out on realising the truth. So, the least we can do is to indulge in silence once in a while and contemplate things within ourselves.

Let us follow the nature’s rule- listen twice as much with the two ears, as we talk with the one mouth!

Now let me not say anymore! Let me adopt the policy of talking less and leave it to the readers to make own judgements! However, I must say that the one day of relative chaos and noise, as the Arya Moun ended on the tenth day of the Course, convinced me even further that we need to learn and practise the art of silence!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Let us not short sell ourselves to Life!

Today, I had the fortune of reading a poem written by some unknown author, which summed up the entire secret of success in life!

“I bargained with life for a penny
and life would pay no more.
However I begged at evening when
I counted my scanty store.

For life is a just employer,
it gives what you ask.
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked hard for a menials hire,
only to learn dismayed,
that any wage I had asked of life,
Life would have willingly paid”.

I know these words need no explanation. However, I can’t resist from writing down my feelings while I imbibe and internalise this profound wisdom!

The poet very beautifully tells us that the Life is not unfair (as most of us had cried one time or other) yet we end up as losers only because we are poor bargainers! 

Most of us bargain for very little from our life! Life, being a fair employer readily accepts our demands (even from a fair employer, we can’t expect more than what we have bargained for).  Once the contract is finalised, Life shows no mercy. It makes us toil hard irrespective of what we have bargained for!

Had we taken enough care to understand our real value and to demand that from our Life, no doubt we could have got it. However, we often underestimate ourselves and settle for much less than that value.  Once we settle our value, whether it is more of less, we will have to do the work that the Employer, our Life, demands from us.  It is foolish on our part to expect that less wages means less work!

Like someone had said before, ‘accepting poverty is as tough as aspiring for prosperity’. 

Having said that, would it mean we can ask any price and get the same from Life?  I don’t think our unknown poet had meant that.  According to our poet, Life is a fair employer, but that does not mean a foolish employer.  No employer pays more than the worth of a worker.  So there is no option to seek the highest wages, irrespective our true worth!

That is a real dilemma, isn’t it? But fortunately, like all other dilemmas, this one is also not without a solution! Between being a loser due to short selling and being rejected due to unfair demands, there is a fine balancing.  Finding this balancing line is the secret of attaining success in life!

Now let me explain the art of this fine balancing.  When we do not know the real worth of a product or service what do we do? When we do not know the temperature of water, do we plunge into it? Or, do we test the water and find out the temperature?

Same is the case in wage negotiation too.  If we do not know the real worth or there is no way to prove it to the employer, we should settle for an acceptable wage, but for a short time.   Do not agree to an unreasonably long term contract until we are sure that we are getting our best possible value. 

Life is no exception! Do not set lifelong goals unless you are sure of your capabilities. Until then, demand realistic wages from the Life, for your hard work.  Slowly, you will realise that you are capable of more and more... Accordingly, keep striking new bargains with the Life.  

Have you noticed that in sports, they say records are there to be broken! Ever thought why it is so? Is it that new generation sportspersons have higher level of physical abilities? I do not think so. They had the knowledge of a previous maximum wage, in the form of a record and they just bargained with Life for a better wage. We all know they manage to earn that increased wage by breaking the previous record!

Like a high jumper, raise the bar one inch at a time. Never raise it by multiple feet, but only by inches.   Same time ensure that you keep raising the bar all the time, until you are sure that you have reached your optimum.  Once you know that you have reached your optimum, stop pushing yourself any further.  Remember, greed has no end; but even a fair employer won’t pay you beyond your reasonable wage!

Let us be wise in our dealings with Life and get the best returns for all the hard work that it makes us do!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spectrum of Law: Extracts from Supreme Court’s 2G Scam Judgement

Writ petition (Civil) No. 423 of 2010 Centre for Public Interest Litigation and others Vs Union of India and others  and Writ Petition (Civil) No. 10 of 2011 Dr. Subramanian Swamy  Vs Union of India and others – (Division Bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly)          
“1.        The important questions which arise for consideration in these petitions ,.......

 (i)      Whether the Government has the right to alienate, transfer or distribute natural resources/national assets otherwise than by following a fair and transparent method consistent with the fundamentals of the equality clause enshrined in the Constitution?

(ii)      Whether the recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 28.8.2007 for grant of Unified Access Service Licence (for short ‘UAS Licence’) with 2G spectrum in 800, 900 and 1800 MHz at the price fixed in 2001, which were approved by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), were contrary to the decision taken by the Council of Ministers on 31.10.2003?

 (iii)    Whether the exercise undertaken by the DoT from September 2007 to March 2008 for grant of UAS Licences to the private respondents in terms of the recommendations made by TRAI is vitiated due to arbitrariness and malafides and is contrary to public interest?

(iv)     Whether the principle of first-come-first-served followed by the DoT for grant of licences is ultra vires the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution and whether the said principle was arbitrarily changed by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Minister of C&IT’), without consulting TRAI, with a view to favour some of the applicants?

(v)     Whether the licences granted to ineligible applicants and those who failed to fulfil the terms and conditions of the licence are liable to be quashed?


58.  Question No.1.... even though there is no universally accepted definition of natural resources, the same can be understood as naturally occurring elements which have an intrinsic utility. They may be renewable or non renewable. They are thought of as the individual elements of the natural environment that provide economic and social services to human society and are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified, natural, form. A natural resource’s value rests in the amount of the material available and the demand for it. The latter is determined by its usefulness to production. As the State in which a natural resource is located benefits immensely from this value, natural resources are considered national assets. In Article 39(b) of the Constitution it has been provided that the ownership and control of the natural resources of the community should be so distributed so as to best sub-serve the common good but no comprehensive legislation has been enacted to generally define natural resources and framework for their protection. Of course, environment laws have been so framed that they deal with specific natural resources, i.e., Forest, Air, Water, Costal Zones, etc.

64.     The doctrine of equality which emerges from the concepts of justice and fairness guides the State in determining the actual mechanism of distribution of natural resources. It has two aspects: first, it regulates the rights and obligations of the State vis-à-vis its people and demands that the people be granted equitable access to natural resources and/or its products and that they are adequately compensated for the transfer of the resource to the private domain; and second, it regulates the rights and obligations of the State vis-à-vis private parties seeking to acquire/use the resource and demands that the procedure adopted for distribution is just, non-arbitrary and transparent and that it does not discriminate between similarly placed private parties.

67.     Question No.2: Although, while making recommendations on 28.8.2007, TRAI itself had recognised that spectrum was a scarce commodity, it made recommendation for allocation of 2G spectrum on the basis of 2001 price by invoking the theory of level playing field.  Paragraph 2.40 of recommendations dated 28.8.2007 shows that as per TRAI’s own assessment the existing system of spectrum allocation criteria, pricing methodology and the management system suffered from number of deficiencies and there was an urgent need to address the issues linked with spectrum efficiency and its management and yet it decided to recommend the allocation of spectrum at the price determined in 2001.  All this was done in the name of growth, affordability, penetration of wireless services in semi urban and rural areas, etc.  Unfortunately, while doing so, TRAI completely overlooked that one of the main objectives of NTP 1999 was that spectrum should be utilised efficiently, economically, rationally and optimally and there should be a transparent process of allocation of frequency spectrum as also the fact that in terms of the decision taken by the Council of Ministers in 2003 to approve the recommendations of the Group of Ministers the DoT and Ministry of Finance were required to discuss and finalise the spectrum pricing formula.  To say the least, the entire approach adopted by TRAI was lopsided and contrary to the decision taken by the Council of Ministers and its recommendations became a handle for the then the Minister of C&IT and the officers of the DoT who virtually gifted away the important national asset at throw away prices.  This becomes clear from the fact that soon after obtaining the licences, some of the beneficiaries off-loaded their stakes to others, in the name of transfer of equity or infusion of fresh capital by foreign companies, and thereby made huge profits.  We have no doubt that if the method of auction had been adopted for grant of licence which could be the only rational transparent method for distribution of national wealth, the nation would have been enriched by many thousand crores.

68.     While it cannot be denied that TRAI is an expert body assigned with important functions under the 1997 Act, it cannot, while making recommendations, overlook the basic constitutional postulates and principles and make recommendations which should deny majority of people from participating in the distribution of national assets/state property.  Therefore, even though the scope of judicial review in such matters is extremely limited, keeping in view of the facts which have been brought to the notice of this Court, we have no hesitation to record a finding that the recommendations made by TRAI were flawed in many respects and implementation thereof by the DoT resulted in gross violation of the objective of NPT 1999.

69.     Question Nos.3 and 4:  There is a fundamental flaw in the principle of first-come-first-served inasmuch as it involves an element of pure chance or accident.  In matters involving award of contracts or grant of licence or permission to use public property, the invocation of first-come-first-served principle has inherently dangerous implications.  Any person who has access to power corridor at the highest or the lowest level may be able to obtain information from the Government files or the files of the agency/instrumentality of the State that a particular public property or asset is likely to be disposed of or a contract is likely to be awarded or a licence or permission would be given.  He would immediately make an application and would become entitled to stand first in the queue at the cost of all others who may have a better claim.  This Court has repeatedly held that wherever a contract is to be awarded or a licence is to be given the public authority must adopt a transparent and fair method for making selections so that all eligible persons get a fair opportunity of competition. To put it differently, the State and its agencies/instrumentalities must always adopt a rational method for disposal of public property and no attempt should be made to scuttle the claim of worthy applicants.  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.

70.     The exercise undertaken by the officers of the DoT between September, 2007 and March 2008, under the leadership of the then Minister of C&IT was wholly arbitrary, capricious and contrary to public interest apart from being violative of the doctrine of equality.  The material produced before the Court shows that the Minister of C&IT wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the Public Exchequer....

(iv)     In view of the approval by the Council of Ministers of the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers, the DoT had to discuss the issue of spectrum pricing with the Ministry of Finance.  Therefore, the DoT was bound to involve the Ministry of Finance before any decision could be taken in the context of paragraphs  2.78 and 2.79 of TRAI’s recommendations.  However, as the Minister of C&IT was very much conscious of the fact that the Secretary, Finance, had objected to the allocation of 2G spectrum at the rates fixed in 2001, he did not consult the Finance Minister or the officers of the Finance Ministry.


(vi)     The cut off date, i.e. 25.9.2007 decided by the Minister of C&IT on 2.11.2007 was not made public till 10.1.2008 and the first-come-first-served principle, which was being followed since 2003 was changed by him at the last moment through press release dated 10.1.2008.  This enabled some of the applicants, who had access either to the Minister or the officers of the DoT to get the bank drafts etc. prepared towards performance guarantee etc. of about 1600 crores.

(vii)    The manner in which the exercise for grant of LoIs to the applicants was conducted on 10.1.2008 leaves no room for doubt that every thing was stage managed to favour those who were able to know in advance change in the implementation of the first-come-first served principle.  As a result of this, some of the companies which had submitted applications in 2004 or 2006 were pushed down in the priority and those who had applied between August and September 2007 succeeded in getting higher seniority entitling them to allocation of spectrum on priority basis.

71.     The argument of Shri Harish Salve, learned senior counsel that if the Court finds that the exercise undertaken for grant of UAS Licences has resulted in violation of the institutional integrity, then all the licences granted 2001 onwards should be cancelled does not deserve acceptance because those who have got licence between 2001 and 24.9.2007 are not parties to these petitions and legality of the licences granted to them has not been questioned before this Court.

72.     ..... There cannot be any quarrel with the proposition that the Court cannot substitute its opinion for the one formed by the experts in the particular field and due respect should be given to the wisdom of those who are entrusted with the task of framing the policies.  However, when it is clearly demonstrated before the Court that the policy framed by the State or its agency/instrumentality and/or its implementation is contrary to public interest or is violative of the constitutional principles, it is the duty of the Court to exercise its jurisdiction in larger public interest and reject the stock plea of the State that the scope of judicial review should not be exceeded beyond the recognised parameters.  When matters like these are brought before the judicial constituent of the State by public spirited citizens, it becomes the duty of the Court to exercise its power in larger public interest and ensure that the institutional integrity is not compromised by those in whom the people have reposed trust and who have taken oath to discharge duties in accordance with the Constitution and the law without fear or favour, affection or ill will and who, as any other citizen, enjoy fundamental rights but is bound to perform duties.

73.     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.

74.     In the result, the writ petitions are allowed in the following terms:

(i)      The licences granted to the private respondents on or after 10.1.2008 pursuant to two press releases issued on 10.1.2008 and subsequent allocation of spectrum to the licensees are declared illegal and are quashed.

(ii)      The above direction shall become operative after four months.

(iii)     Within two months, TRAI shall make fresh recommendations for grant of licence and allocation of spectrum in 2G band in 22 Service Areas by auction, as was done for allocation of spectrum in 3G band.

(iv)     The Central Government shall consider the recommendations of TRAI and take appropriate decision within next one month and fresh licences be granted by auction.

(v)     Respondent Nos.2, 3 and 9 who were benefited by a wholly arbitrary and unconstitutional action taken by the DoT for grant of UAS Licences and allocation of spectrum in 2G band and who off-loaded their stakes for many thousand crores in the name of fresh infusion of equity or transfer of equity shall pay cost of Rs.5 crores each.  Respondent Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 10 shall pay cost of Rs.50 lakhs each because they too had been benefited by the wholly arbitrary and unconstitutional exercise undertaken by the DoT for grant of UAS Licences and allocation of spectrum in 2G band.

(vi)     50% of the cost shall be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for being used for providing legal aid to indigent litigants.  The remaining 50% cost shall be deposited in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

(vii)    However, it is made clear that the observations and conclusions contained in this order shall not, in any manner, affect the pending investigation by the CBI, Directorate of Enforcement and others agencies or prejudice the defence of those who are facing prosecution in the cases registered by the CBI and the Special Judge, CBI shall decide the matter uninfluenced by this judgment.

Please note: The relevance of extracts and emphasis supplied are purely based on my understanding of the law and its implications.  You may refer to the original judgement for a comprehensive view.