The Centre on Monday moved an application before the Supreme Court seeking modification of its 12-year-old judgement in the 2G spectrum scam case, which mandated that public resources such as telecommunications spectrum be allocated through an auction, Live Law reported.

The alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam is said to have originated in 2008, when the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology sold 122 2G licences on a first-come-first-served basis.

In its judgement in February 2012, the court had set aside the first-come-first-served basis for the assignment of 2G spectrum and cancelled the licences that had been allocated to several companies by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the time.

The court had ruled that the government is “duty bound to adopt the method of auction by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons can participate in the process”, India Today reported.

On Monday, the Centre sought a modification of the judgement so that it can allocate spectrum through an administrative process if “pursuit of governmental functions, or public interest so requires, or auction may not be preferred due to technical or economic reasons”, according to Live Law.

In an administrative process of allocating the spectrum, the government decides the method for selecting the companies.

Attorney General R Venkataramani mentioned the application before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud for urgent listing.

However, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the Centre for Public Interest Litigation objected to the government’s application. The nongovernmental organisation is the original petitioner in the case.

Chandrachud asked the attorney general to circulate an email for early listing of the matter, which would be considered, Live Law reported.

The Centre stated in its written submission before the court that subsequent to the 2012 judgement, the Mobile Access spectrum was being assigned to telecommunication service providers through auctions. However, it said, the exemption from the auction rule was being sought specifically for non-commercial purposes to be able to carry out public interest functions, including safety, security and disaster relief, according to Live Law.

In some situations, economics favours assignment instead of auctioning, especially when demand is lower than supply, the government added, Live Law reported.

In its 2012 verdict, the court had ruled that the first-come-first-served basis would always have subjectivity in selection and could be misused. Public auctions, on the other hand, are a comparatively more transparent process to assign national assets or public property.

On March 22, the Delhi High Court had allowed an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the acquittal of former Union telecommunications minister A Raja, among others, in the 2G spectrum scam case.

The central agency’s appeal was admitted nearly six years after it moved the court challenging the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader’s acquittal.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has argued that there were “glaring illegalities” in the trial court’s order acquitting all the accused in the case.

A special court in Delhi had acquitted all the accused in December 2017. Besides Raja, the accused included Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Secretary Sidharth Behura and Raja’s private secretary RK Chandolia.

Special Judge OP Saini had criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation for “misreading” the case.