India on Friday ordered mobile operators to pay billions of dollars "immediately" after its Supreme Court threatened businesses and officials with contempt for failing to comply with an earlier ruling."We will arouse contempt [charges] against everyone, "warned judge Arun Mishra, implying that company and government officials could be fined or jailed if dues are not paid before March 17.
The Supreme Court of India had originally ordered companies such as Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd to pay 920 billion Indian rupees ($ 13 billion) in arrears in levies and interest by January 23. On Friday, she also rejected petitions asking for a review of her order. in October. The telecommunications companies had challenged the government's definition of taxable income.
Justice Mishra berated the government for failing to implement the court order. "This is pure contempt, 100% contempt," said the judge to business and government lawyers.
Later that day, the Indian Telecommunications Department called for "immediate payments" from telecommunications. Another order ordered the linked offices to remain open on Saturday to allow telecommunications licensees to make payments or contact them with any questions regarding this objective.
Shares in Vodafone Idea, in the United Kingdom The Vodafone group has a significant, closed 24.4% interest after the order is published. Vodafone Idea, which owes the Indian government about $ 4 billion in premiums linked to the decision, has seen its shares fall by more than 40% since the October decision. The company has already said it has no plans to raise more equity in India.
Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd are now able to gain market share and benefit from an efficient duopoly in the telecommunications sector. Bharti Airtel's shares rose 4.64% on Friday as it pledged to pay its balance of Rs 100 billion ($ 1.4 billion) "well before" the March deadline. Reliance Jio, supported by the richest man in Asia, Mukesh Ambani, controls more than 90% of the Indian mobile market. He has already paid his subscription.
Analysts fear the court ruling could harm the Indian government and businesses. Indian banks are burdened with nearly $ 140 billion in bad debt and face another major hurdle if Vodafone Idea is forced into bankruptcy.
"It cannot be in anyone's interest if a company as prestigious as Vodafone Idea closes its doors," said Mahesh Uppal, director of ComFirst, a telecommunications consultancy.
The broader Indian stock market also canceled out early gains and traded lower after the decision, with investors worried about the fallout.
Reuters News Agency
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