The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Friday ordered Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and other telecom companies to clear their dues by 11.59 pm on Friday.
The move comes after the Supreme Court rapped the DoT for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore which was to be sent to the government. The SC summoned their top executives to court to explain why its order in this regard was not followed.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also warned the telecom companies that the court may initiate contempt proceedings against them and government officials for not complying with its order.
Coming down heavily on the Telecom companies, the top court bench led by Justice Mishra said, "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 also comprising Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah, expressed anguish over the order passed by DoT's desk officer staying the effect of its verdict in AGR matter. ''Does the Supreme Court have no value? This is the outcome of money power." All these companies haven’t even paid a single penny and your officer has the audacity to stay the order," the bench said.
The top court also directed the managing directors of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, MTNL, BSNL, Reliance Communications, Tata Telecommunication and others to be present in the court on March 17. The apex also directed the Centre to immediately withdraw order passed by its desk officer to not take coercive action against the telecom companies.
Justice Mishra also added that the telecom companies haven`t even paid a single penny and the government officer wants to stay on the order.
The top court warned that this officer was liable to a jail term if that order was not withdrawn within an hour. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered telecom companies to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the government.
On January 16, Justice Mishra-led bench had dismissed review petitions of telcos seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by January 23, saying it did not find any "justifiable reason" to entertain them.