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SC pulls up telcos for violating its order on AGR dues

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The Supreme Court, while hearing a plea on payment of dues under the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case on Friday, observed that how the telecom companies had violated its order "in pith and substance'" and not paid the money to the Centre.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, "This case projects a very disturbing scenario. The companies have violated the order passed by this court in pith and substance. In spite of the dismissal of the review application, they have not deposited any amount so far."

Mishra, in his order, also made it clear that it appears that the way in which things are happening shows "scant respect to the directions issued by the top court".

"A desk officer of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has the temerity to pass the order to the effect of issuing a direction to the accountant general, another constitutional authority, not to insist for any payment pursuant to the order passed by this court and not to take any coercive steps till further orders," the court observed.

Warning the telecom companies of initiation of contempt proceedings against them and a desk officer of the DoT, the top court ruled, "This is nothing but a device to scuttle order of this court. This kind of order should not have been passed by the desk officer at all."

"In the circumstances, we draw contempt proceedings against the desk officer for passing the order and violating the order passed by this court," it added.

The top court said that the managing directors and directors of the telecom companies have to "show cause why the court should not initiate contempt proceedings against them for violating the order passed by this court by not depositing the amount". The court sought their reply by March 17, the next date of hearing.

"Let the concerned officer, sitting over the order passed by this court, also file a reply," the apex court said.

Stressing that in case the order passed by it "is not complied with", the court said, "The concerned persons shall remain personally present in court on the next date of hearing."

The telecom companies had appealed before the top court challenging its AGR verdict on Rs 92,000 crore past dues on them.

The apex court had upheld the central government's plea on the definition of AGR involving around Rs 90,000 crore.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 15 2020. 09:05 IST
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