He had issued an order saying no coercive action should be taken to recover Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues from telecom firms after expiry of the deadline set by the apex court.The order, issued after approval of Member (Finance) in the DoT, was found by the Supreme Court to be a virtual attempt to stay the court’s order.On February 14, the court came down heavily on the “temerity” of a desk officer in the DoT for “scuttling” its order seeking payment of past dues by telecom firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea by January 23.
The court did not name the officer.According to a copy of the order seen by PTI, Mr. Deshpande had issued the order on January 23 directing “not to take any coercive action against the licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order, until further orders“.
The order, he had said, was being issued “with the approval of Member (F)“.Mr. Deshpande was posted as Director (LFP-I) in the Licensing Finance Policy Wing of the DoT when the order was issued.
After the apex court threatened contempt proceedings, the DoT got another Director, Ankur Kumar, posted in the same department to issue an order on Friday, saying the January 23 order “stands withdrawn with immediate effect.”“It is directed to take immediate necessary action in compliance with the judgement dated October 24, 2019 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the order, a copy of which was reviewed by PTI, said.
This order too was with the approval of Member (Finance). P.K. Sinha is Member (Finance).