The High Court on Thursday issued an injunction for two months on realisation of Tk 12,579.95 crore in audit claim from mobile phone operator Grameenphone by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
A bench of Justice AKM Abdul Hakim and Justice Fatema Najib also directed the BTRC and its audit firm to explain why the effectiveness of the BTRC notice claiming the money would not be stayed until the first joint district court of Dhaka disposed of the title suit filed by GP questioning the auditor’s calculation.
The BTRC served the notice on GP on April 2 after an audit firm, a joint venture of Toha Khan Zaman and Co Chartered Accountants, calculated that GP had not paid Tk 12,579.95 crore to the BTRC and National Board of Revenue since 1997.
The bench issued the directive after accepting GP’s appeal for holding a hearing on November 5, GP’s lawyer Tanim Hussain Shawon told New Age.
He said that GP had filed the appeal with the High Court in September challenging the order issued by the first joint district judge’s court on August 28 refusing to grant the injunction on the realisation of the money.
GP in a statement said that the HC also stayed operation of the BTRC letter related to suspension of NOC (no objection certificate) for import of equipment and software, and suspension of tariff and service package approvals.
BTRC lawyer Reza E Raquib Khandaker told New Age that the telecom regulator would appeal against the HC injunction that had been issued without hearing the commission.
Earlier on Thursday, the telecom ministry approved a BTRC proposal to appoint administrators to GP and another mobile company, Robi, over the non-payment of the audit claims.
The BTRC had earlier directed Robi to pay Tk 867.24 crore in audit claims.
A telecom ministry official said that the BTRC proposals on appointing administrators to GP and Robi were approved by posts and telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar on the day.
The government endorsement came after the telecom regulator found explanations of both the operators on BTRC’s show-cause notices ‘unacceptable’.
The BTRC on September 5 this year issued the show-cause notices to GP and Robi asking them why their licences would not be cancelled for non payment of the audit claims.
A few days before issuance of the show-cause notices, both the companies filed lawsuits with the district court challenging the legality of the regulator’s moves to recover Tk 13,446 crore in audit claims in total.
Posts and telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar on Thursday told New Age that they fully supported the commission move to appoint administrators to GP and Robi for the recovery of the government’s money.
‘We are currently looking for honest, capable and competent persons to be appointed as administrators,’ BTRC chairman Jahurul Haque told New Age on Wednesday.
‘Once the ministry gives approval to our selection, we will go forward on the next course of action,’ he said.
The commission would propose four names from four sectors — legal, finance, defence and technology — to the ministry to be appointed as administrators.
The GP statement issued on Thursday by its head of regulatory and acting head of communications Hossain Sadat said, ‘We would like to reaffirm our commitment to reaching a transparent and amicable resolution to the disputed BTRC audit claim through a constructive dialogue.’
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