- Supreme Court summons telecom bosses for contempt
- "Anguished," says top court on petition filed by telecom companies
- Telecom bosses summoned to the court on March 17
Here are 10 developments in this big story:
"I am anguished. I feel I should not work in this court," a Supreme Court bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah said on the petition filed by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices. "Our conscience has been shaken by the way things are happening in the country," they remarked.
The Supreme Court had ordered the telecom companies to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) worth Rs 92,000 crore to the government.
"We will initiate contempt against the officer and the companies. Not a penny has been deposited... Is it not the outcome of money power?" the Supreme Court said on Friday, referring to a "desk officer" in the government who had put on hold the top court's order.
"I am totally at loss how to work in this system and in this country... A desk officer considers himself judge and stays our order. Who is the desk officer? Where is the desk officer. Call him now here. Is there any law left in the country?" the judges fumed. "No company has deposited anything for many years. They should have deposited some money," they said.
Telecom companies including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices had approached the Supreme Court in January, seeking modification in the top court's verdict to get more time to pay up.
The court had rejected the telecom service providers' plea seeking a review of its earlier order that allowed the government to collect dues worth Rs 92,000 crore from them.
The telecom companies want the top court to allow them to approach the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) so that dues could be cleared beyond the January 23 deadline for payment.
Telecom providers in the country pay the DoT 3-5 per cent of their AGR in spectrum usage charges and 8 per cent as licence fees.
Companies have long argued that the AGR should comprise just revenue accrued from core services, while the government says it should include all revenue.
According to the Telecom Department, Bharti Airtel owes around Rs 23,000 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 19,823 crore and Reliance Communications Rs 16,456 crore.