Supreme Court directs Reliance Jio to pay Rs 70 crore to Tata Communications in 2 weeks

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed Reliance Jio to pay Rs 70 crore to Tata Communications within fortnight.

In Reliance Jio’s case against Tata Communications over cable landing station usage charges, the Supreme Court on Monday directed Reliance Jio to pay Rs 70 crore to Tata within period pending further orders within the case.

A bench, headed by judge of India (CJI) NV Ramana, issued the direction in an application filed by Reliance Jio against the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) order to pay Rs 147 crore to Tata Telecom, as cable landing station usage charges.

Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan appearing for Reliance Jio submitted that a reply must be filed by the opposite side to their application.

“You don’t want to pay money, you collect money from us but you don’t want to pay,” the CJI remarked.

Vishwanathan submitted that consistent with their case, the opposite side owes them money.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appearing for Tata Communications submitted that “We are entitled to disconnect. this can be not a case of economic difficulty. they simply bid Rs 50,000 crore for 5G spectrum.”

The matter was listed after the court was told by Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan that several users are blocked if Tata goes through with the suspension of the user licence because of non-payment of dues.

Advocate Arvind Datar had submitted that while Bharti Airtel was paid the dues after it took an aggressive stance, Tata telecom wasn’t, as they'd given your time thanks to the Covid lockdown.

Reliance Jio had filed a telecom petition before the Appellate Tribunal, challenging the stress raised by Tata Telecom and Bharti Airtel.

The demands were raised for payment of charges for a period between Jan 1, 2013, and November 27, 2018. (interregnum between the effective date of the 2012 Regulations, and therefore the date of 2018 notification) on the premise of Cable Landing Station - Reference lnter-connect Offer (`CLS-RIO') approved by the Telecom administrative unit of India (TRAI) as per the 2007 regulations.

The charges included access facilitation charges (AFC), co-location charges (CLC), and operation and maintenance charges.

After Jio’s plea was dismissed by the tribunal, Tata Telecom issued a requirement notice to Jio, demanding a sum of Rs 167,77,62,646 towards AFC and CLC for the aforementioned period.

Tata had kept that notice suspended for the present after consideration of the prevalent circumstances on account of Covid 19.

It has been argued by Reliance Jio through its present application that Tata Telecom has now suddenly awakened and addressed a notice dated July 19, 2022, calling upon Reliance Jio to create a payment towards the demand for AFC and CLC for the said Interregnum. The payment has been sought within a period of fifteen days, failing which, Tata Telecom threatened disconnection/denial of services.