The High Court has stayed for two months a BTRC notice that asked Grameenphone to pay Tk 12,579.95 crore in a disputed audit claim.
A division bench comprising Justice AKM Abdul Hakim and Justice Fatema Najib passed the order on Thursday.The HC also accepted GP’s appeal against a lower court order and 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.
Telecom operator Robi has over Tk 8.67 billion in unpaid bills, according to 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.
Grameenphone had filed an appeal seeking a temporary ban on BTRC notice under the title suit, but the lower court dismissed it on August 28.
The telecom operator later appealed against the lower court order during vacation.
“The High Court admitted our appeal on Thursday and fixed November 5 for hearing. They also ordered a two-month interim ban on BTRC action for payment,” the lawyer said.