Exasperated SC judge says time to ‘leave country’

New Delhi: Often people in power and position forget they stand nowhere before India’s Apex Court – SC and mistake dictating orders to the top court inviting the fury of judges.

In a bizarre, unusual event, a desk officer asked the SC not to take any coercive action against telecom companies for not paying dues triggered the SC’s tongue-lashing for the government while ordering a contempt notice to telecom companies.

The top court summoned the desk officer along with telecom bosses over the non-payment of dues of Rs 92,000 crore as Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR).

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“Should we wind up the Supreme Court? A desk officer considers himself judge and stays our order. Who is the desk officer? A desk officer says coercive action not to be taken until further orders. How can he stay our orders,” lashed out Justice Arun Mishra at the government which was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

“Nonsense has been created. There is no law left in this country. It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country. I am anguished. I feel I should not work in this court,” the Judge said.

Following the SC’s fury, the letter was immediately withdrawn in an hour time.

The letter was written last month titled as: “No coercive action to be taken against telecom service providers in relation to AGR dues”.

It was signed by Mandar Deshpande, Director in the Department of Telecom, who wrote: “You are directed not to take any coercive action against the licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order, until further orders.”

Taking action against the officer, the top court summoned the officer to court and also questioned the government what action was being taken against him.

 A desk officer, the judges said, was writing a letter to the Attorney General and other constitutional authorities saying they should not insist on payment of money by telcos.

Justice Mishra said his judicial conscience was shaken.

“Is there anything left in the judiciary? I am at a loss. I will not bother about myself. I will pass strictures. I am totally at loss how to work in this system and in this country,” the Judge said.

The Judges noted the letter was nothing but a devise to oblige the companies.

Questioning whether “money power” was involved in the officer’s move, the court also said he was liable for contempt and could go to jail.

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