The Supreme Court has sought a reply from state-owned BSNL on a petition filed by COAI seeking refund of transit charges of 19 paise per minute collected by the PSU, violating an earlier apex court order.
A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, while issuing notice to BSNL on the issue, dismissed the Cellular Operators Association of India's plea to hold BSNL and its officers guilty of contempt of the apex court.
COAI and BSNL have been embroiled in a legal wrangle after both parties moved the court following an order by the telecom tribunal.
While BSNL had filed a petition in the SC challenging a TDSAT order that had asked the telecom service provider to stop charging cellular operators transit charges of Rs 0.19 for accessing its CellOne network, COAI wanted refund of the charges with retrospective effect.
TDSAT had held that the telecom PSU was not justified in charging 19 paise for transiting the calls of private cellular mobile service providers on its basic telephone network before landing them on its cellular service CellOne.
The apex court had allowed BSNL to raise bills against private mobile operators at the rate of 19 paise per minute, but had restrained the state entity from actually recovering the money without leave of the court.
While seeking refund of all the money collected as transit charges, COAI in its application said no transit charge was payable with effect from May 3, 2005 and further modified by the interim order of October 21, 2005 after BSNL was asked not to enforce the recovery of bills issued by it.