Supreme Court docket Orders Telcos to Clear Dues by March 17, Threatens Contempt

Supreme Court docket slammed cell carriers on Friday for non-payment of billions of {dollars} in authorities dues and threatened them with contempt proceedings in the event that they did not pay up by March 17.

The courtroom, which had requested corporations together with Vodafone Thought and Bharti Airtel to pay Rs. 92,000 crores in overdue levies and curiosity by January 23, had rejected petitions in search of a evaluation of its order final month.

“That is pure contempt, 100 p.c contempt,” decide Arun Mishra informed legal professionals for the businesses and the federal government on Friday.

The trio of Vodafone Thought, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, which is backed by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, controls greater than 90 p.c of India’s cell market. Airtel and Vodafone have each flagged going concern dangers following the order.

The transfer threatens the survival of Vodafone Thought, a three way partnership of Britain’s Vodafone Group and India’s Thought Mobile, because the unit is saddled with about $3.9 billion in overdue funds.

The Supreme Court docket on Friday mentioned the businesses and the federal Division of Telecommunications (DoT) have been responsible for contempt of courtroom.

“Ought to we wind up the Supreme Court docket now? Is there any regulation left within the nation?” Mishra mentioned.

“We are going to draw up contempt towards everybody,” he mentioned.

Vodafone Thought, which owes the federal government about $four billion, noticed its shares fall as a lot as 19 p.c after Friday’s ruling. The corporate had misplaced about 27 p.c of its worth this yr at Thursday’s shut after falling 73 p.c in 2019.

The broader Indian inventory market additionally reversed early positive aspects to commerce decrease after the ruling as traders have been frightened about its pressure on already over-exposed banks. The broader NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.15 p.c throughout mid-day’s buying and selling.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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