DHAKA: The Supreme Court on Sunday (Nov 24) directed mobile phone operator Grameenphone to pay Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Tk 2,000 crore of the Tk 12,579.95 crore dues within three months.
The seven-member Appellate Division bench, led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, issued the order after hearing a petition filed by the telecom regulator against a High Court order.
The apex court also said if Grameenphone fails to pay the amount, the two-month injunction on realisation of the dues slapped by the HC will be vacated.
Senior lawyer AM Amin Uddin and Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh moved for Grameenphone in the court while senior counsel Mahbubey Alam and Barrister Khandakar Reza-E Raquib stood for the BTRC.
On November 17, the Supreme Court asked Grameenphone not to go for any arbitration or outside court settlement with the government over telecom regulator’s Tk12,579 crore audit claim.
In 2016, BTRC claimed Tk12,579.95 crore from the mobile phone operator in taxes and late fees accumulated over the years after running an audit on the Norway-based company.
BTRC ran its first audit back in 2011 on Grameenphone and found financial discrepancies amounting to Tk3,034 crore in the operator's books from its inception in 1996 till March 2011.
Grameenphone then disputed the appointment process of the auditing firm, and after a court ruling BTRC in October 2015 appointed another firm, Toha Khan Zaman & Co, to run a new audit on Grameenphone’s books from its inception until June 2015.
GP officials claimed that the methodology in the particular issue of BTRC was questionable.
Earlier in July the BTRC slashed GP’s bandwidth temporarily by 30% and on July 22 the telecom regulator decided not to give any types of approval to the operator to roll out new packages or services, or import network equipment to pressure it into clearing their dues.
BDST: 1200 HRS, NOV 24, 2019