After Supreme Court rap, the Department of Telecommunications on Friday ordered telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, to clear dues before midnight on February 14.

The DoT, which faced the ire of the Supreme Court for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies, started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to firms, PTI reported. 

The order asked telcos to clear dues by 11.59 pm Friday. Telecom companies owe Rs 1.47 lakh crore in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the Department of Telecommunications.

Earlier, the telecom department withdrew its order that asked for no coercive action against telecom companies.

The order also directed field offices to take “immediate necessary action” in compliance with the October judgment of the Supreme Court.

The direction by the DoT said its previous order dated January 23, 2020 “stands withdrawn with immediate effect”.

“It is directed to take immediate necessary action in compliance with the judgement dated October 24, 2019 of the Supreme Court,” said the fresh order issued by the DoT soon after the apex court made its observations on Friday.

This came after the apex court directed the managing directors and directors of telcos and other firms to explain why contempt action be not taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay AGR. 

Taking strong note of the non-compliance of its order, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah expressed anguish over the order passed by DoT’s desk officer staying the effect of its verdict in AGR matter.

“We don’t know who is creating this nonsense. Is there no law left in country… It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country,” the bench observed.

The top court said a desk officer is writing a letter to the Attorney General and other constitutional authorities saying they should not insist on payment of money by telcos and others and to ensure that no coercive action is taken against them. 

(With PTI inputs)

Courtesy : DNA

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