A letter from the “desk officer” stating that no coercive action to be taken against the telecommunication companies (telcos) should be taken for not paying the dues enraged the Supreme Court. The top court has directed the government to produce the offer in front of it.
The Supreme Court has also summoned the Managing Directors (MDs) of the telecom companies over non-payment of their dues on the deadline set by the top court.
Justice Arun Mishra, Supreme Court demanded of the government as he said “Should we wind up the Supreme Court? A desk officer considers himself a judge and stays our order. Who is the desk officer? A desk officer says coercive action not to be taken until further orders. How can he stay our orders”.
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India was representing the government.
Justice Mishra added, “Nonsense has been created. There is no law left in this country. It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country. I am anguished. I feel I should not work in this court”.
The letter that the apex court was referring to was written last month and titled “No Coercive action to be taken against the TSPs (Telecommunication Service Providers) in relation to AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues”.
The letter said, “This is in relation to the judgment and order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in AGR matter dated 24.10.2019, whereby the Hon’ble Court had given the TSPs three months’ time to make payments and submit compliance.”
“LFA (Licensing Finance Assessment) Wing has already informed the Access Service Licensees to make the payments to DoT (Department of Telecommunications) HQ [letter attached herewith].”
“You are directed not to take any coercive action against the Licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order, until further orders.”
“A detailed status report of compliance, or otherwise may be sent to CGPS (Controller General of Communication Accounts) (TSP Wise) on 24.01.2020 by 5.00 PM.”
“This issue with the approval of Member (F).”
The letter was signed by the Director of the Department of Telecom, Mandar Deshpande.
The judges said that this letter was nothing but a device to oblige the telecoms. The top court has directed the government that the officer should be produced in front of them and even questioned the actions, if any, were taken against him.
The judges said that a desk officer wrote a letter to the Attorney General and other authorities asking them to not pressurize the telecom on making the payments.
Justice Mishra said that his judicial conscience is shaken, he continued “Is there anything left in the judiciary? I am at a loss. I will not bother about myself. I will pass strictures. I am totally at a loss on how to work in this system and in this country”.
The judges praised a concern about whether “money power” was involved in the action taken by the officer. The court said that the officer was liable for contempt of court and may be sentenced to jail.