The Supreme Court on Monday directed private telecom operators like Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Aircel to file affidavits stating their dues to state-owned BSNL in carriage charges.
The court also said telecom operators will have to deposit half the amount claimed by the state-run firm before the Supreme Court registry.
"You would have to show your bona fide and have to submit at least half the amount in the Supreme Court registry ... then only we would stay the TDSAT's order," the court said.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justice KS Radhakrishnan directed members of the COAI lobby group, which represents telcos that operate on the GSM technology, to submit a chart of their liabilities to BSNL for the period November 2005 to March 2009.
"Each of the operator would indicate the exact amount which according to them, they have to give," the bench said.
The country's largest operator Bharti Airtel from the GSM side and AUSPI lobby group that represents CDMA-based telcos Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices have already filed their statements.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing for BSNL, informed the apex Court that private telecom operators owe around Rs 470 crore to the PSU.
He further submitted that Airtel, Tata Tele and Reliance alone owe Rs 170 crore to the state owned telco.
BSNL levies carriage charges for forwarding calls originating from private telco networks to its own network.
The court was hearing two petitions filed by both the lobby groups -- Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) -- challenging the order of the telecom tribunal TDSAT.
The tribunal has set aside a directive of telecom sector regulator TRAI to pay carriage charges to BSNL on a uniform rate of 20 paise a call for completing intra-circle calls.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had, on May 21, 2010, set aside TRAI's direction to have a uniform carriage charge of 20 paise for intra-circle calls.
According to the operators, TDSAT has also set aside two letters written by TRAI on May 17, 2006 to the PSU and "wrongly allowed BSNL to levy distance-based carriage charges on the appellant instead of a uniform carriage charge of 20 paise per minute in case of intra-circle".
The lobby groups have further submitted that TRAI, in its regulation, had directed BSNL to take 20 paise as carriage charge for all calls for and from private cellular mobile networks.
"However, in violation of the said IUC Regulation, BSNL was levying a distance-based carriage charge of 65 paise, 90 paise and Rs 1.10 for distance slabs of 50 to 200 km, 200 to 500 km and above 500 km respectively," the operators said.