SC asks Grameenphone to pay BTRC Taka 10 bn by Feb 24

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Grameenphone (GP) to pay Tk 10 bn by Monday (February 24) out of audit claim of Tk 125 bn by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Besides, the apex court said that Grameenphone has to pay the full amount of Tk 2000 crore, which was fixed by this court on November 24, 2019.
The apex court also fixed Monday for delivering its order relating to the payment of rest amount by the GP to BTRC.
A seven-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order after hearing a review petition filed by Grameenphonne seeking review of the court’s earlier order.
On November 24 last year, the apex court had ordered GP to pay Tk. 2,000 crore to BTRC within three months in three instalments.
But, the GP authority had on January 26 this year filed a review petition with the apex court seeking permission to pay around Tk. 575 crores in 12 instalments.
During yesterday’s proceedings, the apex court said that it would not reduce the full amount of Tk 2000 crore, but the apex court would give more time to GP for paying the rest amount if it would pay Tk 1000 crore by Monday.
At one stage of the hearing, pointing the finger to the Grameenphone the apex court said that no one should consider the Bangladeshi court as a small court.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. Everyone should pay respect to this court, the apex court added.
Advocate AM Amin Uddin and barrister Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury took part in the hearing on behalf of Grameenphone while attorney general Mahbubey Alam in person and barrister Khandaker Reza-E-Raquib appeared for BTRC.
Taking part in the hearing, Advocate Amin Uddin prayed to the court to allow GP for paying Tk 500 crore by this month (February) and the rest of amount will also pay by the GP in equal instalments in five months.
Then the chief justice said, “If you pay Tk 2000 crore then we will consider for extending the time, otherwise not. It is not right if you think that the apex court of Bangladesh is a small court. This is the highest court in the country. We will not reduce the amount anyway.”
In reply, Amin Uddin said that they needed time till Sunday (February 23) to take a decision on the court’s statement.
The chief justice then said that no need to talk. We may pass an order to pay the total amount Tk 2000 crore within one month.
Then, the GP’s lawyer urged the court to give the GP at least six months for paying the remaining amount of 1500 crore.
Later, the apex court fixed Monday for passing its order over the review petition filed by GP.
Earlier on November 24, 2019, the Appellate Division ordered the Grameenphone to pay Tk 2000 crore within three months in three instalments.
If the Grameenphone fails to pay the amount within the stipulated time then the High Court injunction against the realisation of Tk 12579 crore by BTRC would be vacated, the apex court added.
The deadline of the apex court order will expire on February 23.
BTRC claimed the dues in 27 sectors from the mobile operator but failed to recover the money. Later, BTRC sent a notice to GP threatening to revoke its licence on April 2 last year.
But GP moved the court seeking a temporary injunction on the notice which was turned down on August 28 that year. The mobile operator later filed an appeal with the High Court.
On October 17, the High Court imposed a two-month injunction on the realisation of dues from GP.
BTRC on October 23 filed a regular leave to appeal petition with the Appellate Division against the High Court order of issuing injunction upon the realisation of BTRC claim. After hearing the leave petition, the apex court disposed of the matter on November 24, 2019.
Later in January this year, Grameenphone filed a petition seeking review of the apex court’s order passed to pay BTRC Tk 2000 crore.- Staff Reporter