Unpaid dues: HC order on Robi’s stay petition Thursday

Staff Correspondent

22nd October, 2019 06:23:45 printer

Unpaid dues: HC order on Robi’s stay petition Thursday

The High Court will pass its order on petition filed by Robi Axiata seeking stay on BTRC’s move to realise Tk 867.23 crore in disputed audit scam on Thursday.

A division bench comprising Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khijir Hayat fixed the date after hearing the petition on Tuesday.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on July 31 last year issued a notice asking Robi Axiata to pay dues.

In a similar move, on October 17, the High Court stayed for two months a BTRC notice that asked Grameenphone (GP) to pay dues Tk 12,579.95 crore.

The HC also accepted GP’s appeal against a lower court order which rejected its stay petition. The HC adjourned the hearing until November 5.

Lawyers AM Amin Uddin, Sharif Bhuiyan and Tanim Hossain Shaon appeared for GP while Khandaker Reza-e-Rakib represented BTRC.

As GP and Robi failed to pay the dues despite reminders, BTRC ordered the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators to limit two mobile companies’ bandwidth capacity by 30 per cent and Robi’s 15 per cent on July 4.

It was followed by the decision to stop issuance of NOCs and other approvals before notices were served on GP and Robi on September 5. The notices asked them to explain why their licences to offer 2G and 3G services will not be revoked.

The operators with a combined customer base of over 120 million were given 30 days to answer. BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque threatened to appoint administrators to recover the arrears.

But prior to the issuance of the notice, Robi and Grameenphone filed separate civil suits with a Dhaka court to settle the dispute in August, calling the BTRC’s claims “unfounded” and “faulty”.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has been pursuing the regulators for a settlement as well saying that taxes from the operators will rise if the authorities let them do business smoothly.

The telecom operators recently sent letters to the telecom regulator contending that the notices are “unfounded”, since the matter is sub judice because cases had been initiated before the notices were served.

A lower court had admitted GP’s title suit and kept it pending, said lawyer Tanim Hossain Shaon.

But the lower court rejected Grameenphone’s stay petition on August 28.The telecom operator later moved to the HC against the lower court order.

Robi also filed a petition with the High Court seeking stay on BTRC’s move to realise dues.

Advocate Prabir Neogi and Barrister Gazi Ershadul Alam appeared for Robi while Barrister Khandaker Reza-e-Raquib moved for BTRC.