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NGO Files PIL In SC For Recovery Of AGR Dues From Telecos

Nilashish Chaudhary
26 Jan 2020 1:34 AM GMT
NGO Files PIL In SC For Recovery Of AGR Dues From Telecos
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An NGO called Save Consumer Rights Foundation has moved Supreme Court seeking directions for appropriate action to be taken by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to ensure that Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) cough up Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues in compliance with the apex court's judgment dated October 24, 2019. The petitioner has challenged the DoT's order for not take coercive action against TSPs in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court's verdict.

It has been strongly contested that the top court, in its October judgment, had given these TSPs a period of three months to pay their dues and despite the review petition against this decision being dismissed on January 16, 2020, the order issued on January 23, 2020 by DoT (to not take coercive action) is a "gross violation of Article 141 of the Constitution (and) transgresses the Fundamental right to life of the Indian Citizens". Having informed that the total payable dues by the TSPs up to July 2019 is over Rs. 1.47 lakh crore, the petitioner argues that non collection of the same would cause huge losses to the exchequer and directly affect the public's economic rights. TSPs have earned revenue though the public and are unjustly enriching themselves while causing loss to public money as a result of non-implementation of the court's orders, argues the petitioner. Money that has been adjudicated to be paid is public money, and not some private contractual dues owed to the central Government, so it involves substantial public interest, adds the petitioner.

Beyond this, the petitioner asserts that the Government is duty bound to carry out the court's order. In having issued the order dated January 23, the DoT's actions amount to obstruction of justice and wilful disobedience of the court's order, especially in light of the dismissal of the review petition. Additionally, the TSPs have deliberately not deposited any money with the government, and are also in wilful disobedience. Keeping these two aspects in mind, the petitioner has submitted that the government had no power to modify specific directions of the top court, in seeking payment of dues within three months, and by doing so it has helped TSPs disobey court's orders. A plea for action against TSPs as well as DoT, in this regard, has been made.

Most prominantly, however, the petitioner seeks quashing of the DoT's direction, of not taking coercive action, and issuance of direction to take steps to recover dues in accordance with the court's orders.

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