A “desk officer’s” letter asking that no coercive action be taken against telecom companies for not paying dues was the trigger for the Supreme Court’s tongue-lashing for the government and a notice to telecom companies for contempt. The top court summoned the officer besides telecom bosses over non-payment of dues of Rs 92,000 crore as Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). The Department of Telecom, given one hour to withdraw the letter, has now done so.
“Should we wind up the Supreme Court? A desk officer considers himself 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,” Justice Arun Mishra had demanded of the government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
“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.” … Questioning whether “money power” was involved in the officer’s move, the court also said he was liable for contempt and could go to jail.
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