Hours after the Supreme Court slammed the Department of Telecom and telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, for not following its October-23 order on the payment of AGR (Adjusted and Gross Revenue) dues, the DoT withdrew its no "coercive action" order against telcos, The Economic Times reported citing sources.
Lambasting the DoT for issuing the circular, the SC bench headed by Arun Mishra dismissed the review petition saying there's "no stay" on the coercive action against the telcos failing to comply with the SC order. "An officer overrides a court order. What is happening? Officers are ruling this country?" observed Mishra, the daily reported, while issuing a contempt notice against the DoT officer who issued the directive. The SC bench also gave the DoT time till Friday to take back the order.
Notably, the DoT in its January 23 order asked its circle officers not to initiate action against the telecom companies for non-payment of the AGR dues before the deadline. The SC bench today also asked the telcos to pay "sizeable" amount to show their bona fides by Friday only. The next hearing in the case will be held on March 17. Till that time, the telecom companies are required to clear all pending AGR dues or CMDs or MDs of these respective companies will have to be present in the Supreme Court.
Apart from Mishra, the SC bench comprised Justices S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah. The pleas filed by the telcos had sought more time for the payment of the AGR dues. As per the DoT, Airtel owes Rs 21,682.13 crore as a licence fee to the government and dues from Vodafone totals Rs 19,823.71 crore, while Reliance Communications owes Rs 16,456.47 crore. BSNL owes Rs 2,098.72 crore and MTNL Rs 2,537.48 crore.
Edited by Manoj Sharma