New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a reply from both the Centre and state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on a plea seeking to quash an agreement for use of outdated 2G technology in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and two districts of Assam.
A bench of Justices headed by Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta sought responses from the Centre and BSNL along with the two states within three weeks.
It is to be noted that a plea was filed by an NGO claiming that the outdated 2G network technology was procured at a huge cost while the 4G technology was available at a cheaper rate.
Following which in the month of August, the Delhi High Court dismissed the NGO’s plea which had sought quashing of the agreement and termed it as a ‘Policy Decision’ of the Government.
“Move to deploy an outdated 2G technology will not serve any purpose for the people of the two states for the benefit of whom this project is being deployed,” the petition read, adding that 2G and 3G technologies have already been declared by TRAI as “yester-years” technology.
Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva who appeared for the NGO contended that the decision of the government was aimed to favour two private companies and was discriminatory.
Furthermore, the plea also sought to quash the agreement signed between the Department of Telecom (DoT) and BSNL on January 16 this year that mandated the use of the 2G technology, which was being purchased at a huge cost Rs 2,258 crore from two private companies with “mala fide intention.”
It may be mentioned that the counsels further said that the decision was contradictory to the central government’s policy of “Digital North East 2022” and as per the Indian Telegraph Act, the government is obliged to provide all types of telegraphy services at affordable rates to the rural and unconnected areas.
Bhushan further argued that the public money of Rs 2,258 crore will go down the drain if the agreement dated between January 2016 was not quashed, as public funds cannot be allowed to be wasted for the benefit of private companies.
Interestingly, the counsels also challenged the High Court order in the top court, saying, “that the High Court was erred in terming the issue of deployment of 2G technology as a policy matter.”