DoT India. (Photo: Twitter/@DoT_India). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Feb 14 : A Department of Telecommunication (DoT) desk officer's letter directing no coercive action against the telecom companies for not paying dues, leading to non-compliance of the Supreme Court order in Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) matter, irked the top court.

A bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said: "Should we wind up this court? A desk officer considers himself a judge and stays this court's orders... how can this officer stay our orders, who is this desk officer?" The letter was written, last month, by an officer in the Licensing Finance Policy Wing, under the DoT, said no coercive action to be taken against telecom companies if they fail to comply with the top court order until further orders. Justice Mishra questioned the Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, as to how can a desk officer say coercive action to be taken until further orders? Reprimanding the government on the desk officer's conduct, the court said this officer has written a letter to the Attorney General, the top law officer, and other constitutional authorities directing them not insist on payment of money by the telecom companies.

The top court summoned this officer along with the top bosses of the telecom companies for failing to clear AGR dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore. Justice Mishra also directed the DoT to withdraw the letter by evening, and the department has complied with this direction.

Justice Mishra said he is anguished and senses a feeling if he should work in the top court anymore. "Nonsense has been created. There is no law in the country", he said.

Asking the Centre to bring the officer to court, the court also queried the Centre on the nature of action is it planning to take against him. It observed this letter was not nothing but an attempt to oblige these telecom companies. The court did not relent in putting across the probability of involvement of money power, and warned if it were to be true, then officer concerned was liable for contempt and eventually could end up behind bars.

Justice Mishra said his judicial conscience has been shaken. "I am at a loss... is there anything left in the judiciary?" he added. He observed that he will continue to pass strictures, as he expressed concern on the functioning of the system.

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