Supreme Court orders DoT to refund RCOM

7 Jan 2020

India’s Supreme Court has upheld a December 2018 ruling from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) instructing the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to refund INR1.04 billion (USD14.4 million) to bankrupt cellco Reliance Communications (RCOM). The Economic Times reports that the apex court rejected an appeal from the DoT, directing the ministry to repay the amount to RCOM. The original ruling was issued after DoT encashed bank guarantees of INR9.08 billion against spectrum dues of INR7.74 billion, with the ministry opting to retain the excess for the cellco’s other liabilities. In its December 2018 decision, however, the TDSAT ruled that difference could not be used for other dues, noting that, although the DoT had adjusted INR303 million, ‘the remaining amount of INR1.04 billion … should be returned to the petitioner without prejudice to rights of either party for any other charges which the petitioner may be found liable to pay.’ RCOM is currently going through insolvency proceedings, with its creditors this week reportedly assessing bids for the operator’s various assets.