Grameenphone and Robi have challenged the legality of the telecom regulator’s show-cause notice on them asking to reply within 30 days why their licences would not be cancelled for their failure to pay Tk 13,446 crore of dues.
The show-cause notice was sent on September 5.
The operators said they filed cases in late August challenging the audit claims before the notice was served.
They said the issue is now subjudice, which is why the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission should not have sent out the show-cause notice.
For the both cases, which the lower court accepted, the government lawyers were present. So, both the government and the telecom regulator are well aware of the cases.
In the telecom act it is clearly mentioned in section 26 that the BTRC must defer to the public demand recovery or the alternative dispute resolution to recover dues from operators.
But the telecom regulator has gone straight to licence cancellation and issued show-cause notice, they said.
“Audit claims running into hundreds of crores of taka that does not take our views or concerns into cognizance is not in keeping with the standard audit practice,” said Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi, in a written statement yesterday.
“We have therefore long been requesting the BTRC to resolve this dispute amicably by agreeing to participate in mediation or ADR, as laid down in our civil procedure.”
But the BTRC has not responded to the “well-intentioned gesture” to find a lasting solution to the current impasse.
“Hence, we were forced to file a suit challenging the flawed audit findings. In this backdrop, audit is now a subjudice matter and any show-cause issued is invalid,” Alam added.
In a separate statement Grameenphone said: “The unfounded show-cause notice by the BTRC to cancel our licence has not been withdrawn and hence we have provided our responses.”
However, BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said they are following the telecom act and they have no intention to do anything arbitrarily.
The BTRC has formed a review committee to evaluate the reply. The committee is scheduled to sit today.
About the next step of action, the BTRC chairman said appointing administrator is an option subject to the approval of the government.
“We just got their response and we will take our time to go for the next step,” said Haque.
The BTRC has demanded Tk 12,579.95 crore from Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore from Robi in unpaid dues after audits into the two operators’ books from their inception.
The long drawn-out issue was heading towards an amicable conclusion after Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal stepped in and organised a meeting on September 18.
After the meeting he said the issue will be resolved within the next two to three weeks and asked all parties to withdraw their cases and show-cause notices.
But now, the issue seems to be back to square one.