Why the SC rapped a DoT desk officer over AGR order

Why the SC rapped Department of Telecommunications desk officer over AGR order

"We will draw up contempt against everyone," said Justice Arun Mishra

Supreme Court of India. (Credit: Reuters Photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday rapped a desk officer in Department of Telecommunication (DoT) while taking a strong note of non-compliance of its order asking telecom firms to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to DoT.

Here's why the apex court rapped the officer:

1. The Supreme Court had earlier directed that all AGR-related dues worth Rs 1.47 lakh crore had to be paid by telecom companies and it had set January 23 as the deadline.

2. One Department of Telecommunication desk officer had in effect stayed the verdict of the apex court. 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 telecom companies and others and to ensure that no coercive action is taken against them. 

Also read — 'No law left in country?' SC raps DoT officer on staying top court on telcos' AGR dues

3. "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.

Taking strong note of the non-compliance of its order, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, 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. 

The court, which had asked companies including Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to pay over Rs 1.47 lakh crore ($12.89 billion) in overdue levies and interest by January 23, had rejected petitions seeking a review of its order last month.

"This is pure contempt, 100% contempt," judge Arun Mishra told lawyers for the companies and the government on Friday. 

The Supreme Court on Friday said the companies and the federal Department of Telecommunications (DoT) were liable for contempt of court.

"Should we wind up the Supreme Court now? Is there any law left in the country?" Mishra said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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