New Delhi: A ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday approved starting the process to auction spectrum which would be freed in the wake of Supreme Court cancelling 122 licenses.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) gave the approval to the process for selecting an auctioneer who will conduct the fresh round of bidding for spectrum as mandated by the apex court.
"The EGoM has approved the initiation of the process for selection of auctioneer... We will begin the process immediately," Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters after the panel meeting here.
Bids will be invited for appointment of auctioneers and a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued within next few days, he said.
Former DoT officer JS Deepak, who had played a key role in carrying out 3G and BWA spectrum sale in 2010, has been roped in by the government to manage the Supreme Court-ordered spectrum auction.
In February 2012, Supreme Court cancelled 122 2G telecom licences issued during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja, and asked government to complete spectrum auction by August 31.
The government had sought 400 days time from the apex court but the request was rejected. As per government's plan, it was to start spectrum auction from December 20 and allocate spectrum in March 2013.
Now, with just about 120 days left from the August 31 deadline, the government is under pressure to expedite the process for spectrum auction.
By middle of this month, DoT is expected to send its final view to the EGoM, which will then take final call on spectrum auction.

Trai Chairman J S Sarma also gave a presentation on the recommendations to the EGoM.
Asked about the next meeting, Chandrashekhar said it will take place whenever required.
The Telecom Commission, the apex decision making body in Department of Telecommunication (DoT), met yesterday and decided to send the recommendations back to Trai for clarification.
Representatives from telecom companies have also met Ministry officials and expressed their concern over the recommendations.
Sectoral regulator Trai, on April 23, recommended a base price of Rs 3,622 crore for a megahertz (MHz) of pan-India spectrum, which is around 10 times higher than the price at which 2G licences bundled with 4.4 Mhz spectrum were allocated in 2008 under the then Telecom Minister A Raja.
According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) recommendations, a minimum of 5 Mhz should be allotted, which means that pan-India spectrum in 1800 MHz band will cost Rs 18,000 crore.