The Supreme Court today has excoriated the telecom operators for their non-compliance of its order directing them to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of Rs 1.47 Lakh crore to the department of telecommunications (DoT).
A three-judge bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah has dismissed the plea filed by the telecom companies including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea which sought, for a review of its October 2019 judgment and requesting them to grant some more time to repay the AGR dues. The bench while directing the managing directors, directors of telecoms and other firms to explain as to why contempt action not be taken against them, has further set the timeline for the repayment of dues to 17 March.
“We don’t know who is creating this nonsense. Is there no law left in the country? It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country,” the bench observed.
The recovery by the government was based on adjusted gross revenue of about Rs 92,000 crore.
Observing that not even a single penny has been paid by the telecom companies till date, Justice Arun Mishra stated “I am literally shocked” and also slammed the Department of Telecom desk officer who wrote to the Attorney General asking him not to insist on payment of dues till further orders.
“If this is not the outcome of money power. let me speak! This is not the way your Officer should behave,” asserted Justice Arun Mishra.
Reportedly, the DoT had issued a circular affirming that no coercive action should be taken against the operators for non-payment of AGR dues within the time frame set by the Supreme Court.
Earlier on 16 January, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed review petitions of the telecom firms which sought review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 Lakh crore in statutory dues by 23 January, saying it did not find any ‘justifiable reason’ to entertain them.
Further, the court has scheduled the next hearing of the matter on March 17.