Grameenphone will pay the remaining Tk1,000 crore by May 31 to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission over an audit dispute
The country's largest mobile phone network service provider Grameenphone (GP) will have to pay the remaining Tk1,000 crore audit claim to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) by May 31 as per the order of the Appellate Division.
Recently the Appellate Division published the full text of the February 24 verdict passed by a six-member bench led by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain.
Lawyers of both parties have said that they have collected the copies of the verdict.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, who represents the state-owned BTRC, told The Business Standard that May 31 is the deadline for payment.
"Now there is no scope for GP to dilly-dally, oppose or review the audit claim as this is the end of the legal procedure. They must pay within that time," said the attorney general.
The Appellate Division has ruled that if Grameenphone does not pay the money by May 31, the High Court's moratorium on the BTRC's audit claim will be lifted. Then the BTRC will be able to take any legal steps to realise the dues, added Mahbubey Alam.
The chief counsel of the BTRC Khondker Reza E Rakib said they have collected the recently published full text of the verdict, and that the BTRC is waiting for the money.
Rakib said the court has given some remarkable observations in its full verdict.
The Appellate Division said that they also want foreign companies to do uninterrupted business in Bangladesh. But they must obey the rules and regulations, said Khondker Reza E Rakib.
He also said the court has ordered GP to pay the amount in one go.
Grameenphone Lawyer Barrister Mohammad Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury told The Business Standard that Grameenphone was granted three months to pay the remaining Tk1000 crore over the audit dispute.
"According to that, May 31 will be the last payment date. The court also asked the government to ensure that the mobile network service provider does not face any issue over payment until the deadline,"said Barrister Mehedi.
He said the verdict also ordered the government to ensure the uninterrupted business operations of GP.
The telecom regulator BTRC had initially claimed Tk12,000 crore in 'unpaid dues' from the country's leading mobile network service provider last year.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court later ordered GP to pay the regulator Tk2,000 crore in three months. Grameenphone subsequently paid Tk1,000crore as part of the first instalment to BTRC in line with the order.
The three-month deadline set by the apex court ended in February this year. But the company sought another six months to pay the remaining Tk1,000 crore to BTRC after submitting the pay-slip to the court.
He cited the five-month deadline fixed by the High Court for another telecom carrier, Robi, to pay Tk 1.38 billion to BTRC in 'unpaid bills' when seeking the extension.
The BTRC threatened Grameenphone with license cancellation when it failed to make it pay despite repeated efforts. As the BTRC did not agree to a proposal on settlement of the issue through arbitration, Grameenphone turned to the judiciary for a resolution.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal's bid to mediate through discussions with officials of the BTRC and Grameenphone also failed.
The High Court later froze for two months a lower court order requiring Grameenphone to clear the audit demand on Oct 17 in 2019.
But after the BTRC sought to appeal against the stay, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on November 24 in 2019 ordered Grameenphone to pay the regulator Tk2,000 crore within three months.
Grameenphone subsequently asked for a review of the Supreme Court order. However, the mobile network operator now has to obey the court order of payment to the BTRC.