Attorney general (AG) R. Venkataramani has reportedly told the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that auction remains the preferred way for spectrum allocation. 

DoT had earlier sought the AG’s opinion on the matter after framing guidelines for private networks, wherein direct or administrative allocation or allotment without auction of airwaves to enterprises was also listed as one of the options. 

As per sources, the AG has stated that any community resource, in all circumstances, should be allocated in a manner that may fetch the best return possible and the allocation of the resource through the auction process is found desirable. Although DoT had already framed guidelines that clearly differentiated between commercial and non-commercial spectrum, the AG was of the view that questions could still be raised around the assessment or evaluation criteria in case of administrative allocation. 

Further, DoT has been advised to come out with a tighter set of guidelines for the purpose of administrative assignment which should be watertight and insulate the process from any legal challenges. The department needs to go back to the AG with the revised guidelines. The AG will then decide if there is a need to go to the Supreme Court for seeking further clarity on the allocation process.