NEW DELHI, Feb 2 (IANS): The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government reacted cautiously to Thursday's Supreme Court verdict canceling 122 telecom licences issued during jailed former communications minister A Raja's tenure, saying it would formulate a comprehensive response after studying the order and its implications.
"The government will examine the judgment and its implications," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is government's chief trouble shooter, told reporters.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal met Home Minister P. Chidambaram after the apex court judgment. He later told reporters that both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram, who was the finance minister when 2G spectrum was allocated, are not responsible for the irregularities in the process.
Information and Broadcasting Information Minister Ambika Soni said: "If the honourable Supreme Court says the licenses need to be scrapped and those who want to buy them will buy them at today's rate, well then so be it.
"The government will go by the direction of Supreme Court. I don't see why entire BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leadership is going to town saying that its a verdict against UPA government.
She blamed the BJP-backed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the faulty telecom policy that got a rap from the apex court.
"It was a cabinet that met in 2001 that took decisions on the telecom policy. It was an NDA government. It was not reversed. Those decisions which are thought to be pro-people, successive government don't necessarily have to cancel those," she told reporters.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also said put the blame on the BJP-led NDA government.
"As far as I remember, the decision was taken by NDA cabinet in 2001. That policy which is being followed till now was the decision of NDA government. Why should Chidambaram resign? The Supreme Court did not give any verdict against Chidambaram. It said the decision will be taken by trial court," he said.
In another decision, while hearing the petition of Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy for investigating Chidambaram, the apex court left the matter to the trial court, adding that the CBI is free to investigate if it chooses to do so. Swamy had sought an investigation into Chidambaram's role in the 2G spectrum allocation.
Rubbishing the Bharatiya Janata Party's renewed demand that Manmohan Singh sack Chidambaram, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary told NDTV news channel: "We will come out with a comprehensive response after studying the order."
Defending Chidambaram, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said: "The opposition will always be after one minister or the other."
"Day before yesterday, there was a judgment and the opposition reacted even without reading it," he said.
He was remarking on Tuesday's Supreme Court order that had slammed the Prime Minister's Office but gave a clean chit to Manmohan Singh over the delay in granting Swamy sanction to prosecute Raja.
"Kapil Sibal is telecom minister...he will go into the details of the judgment... and will do whatever is suitable," Shukla added.
Stating that the "opposition's attempt to corner the government does not matter as the case is already in court and the court will decide", Shukla said: "As far as the opposition is concerned, they comment on everything without understanding (the issue)."
In cancelling the 122 licences, the apex court gave the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India four months to look into the matter and make recommendations for an auction.