The Supreme Court orders telecommunications companies to liquidate fees before March 17 and threatens contempt

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<pre><pre>The Supreme Court orders telecommunications companies to liquidate fees before March 17 and threatens contempt
The Supreme Court of India criticized mobile phone operators for the non-payment of billions of dollars in government fees and threatened them with contempt procedures if they did not pay before March 17.

The court, which had asked companies such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to pay 920 billion Indian rupees ($ 12.89 billion) in taxes and interest due before January 23, rejected petitions requesting a review of their order on last month.

"This is pure contempt, 100% contempt," Judge Arun Mishra told the lawyers of the companies and the government on Friday.

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Vodafone Idea's trio, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, backed by the richest man in Asia, Mukesh Ambani, controls more than 90% of India's mobile market. Airtel and Vodafone have signaled risks of companies underway after the order.

The measure threatens the survival of Vodafone Idea, a joint venture of Great Britain Vodafone Group Plc and the Cellular Idea of ‚Äč‚ÄčIndia, as the unit is charged with approximately $ 3.9 billion in late payments.

The Supreme Court said Friday that the companies and the Federal Department of Telecommunications (DoT) were responsible for contempt of court.

"Should we liquidate the Supreme Court now? Is there any law left in the country?" Mishra said.

"We will raise contempt against everyone," he said.

Vodafone Idea, which owes the government about $ 4 billion, saw that its shares fell to 19% after Friday's ruling. The company had lost about 27% of its value this year at the close of Thursday after falling 73% in 2019.

The broader Indian stock market also reversed the initial gains to go down after the decision, as investors were worried about their pressure on already overexposed banks. The broader NSE Nifty 50 index fell 0.15% during the noon trading.

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