Courts Update Delhi High Court issues notice to Department of Telecom,...

Delhi High Court issues notice to Department of Telecom, Delhi Police on a plea seeking contempt proceedings for interference with the administration of justice

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New Delhi Sept 2(ILNS): The Delhi High Court today issued notice on an application seeking initiation of contempt filed by “Telecom Watchdog” alleging award of telecom contracts under Universal Service Obligation Fund to private companies, without any tender.

The application was filed seeking directions for initiating suo moto contempt proceedings against Mr. Anshu Prakash, Secretary, DoT (Respondent No.1), Mr. Ashi Kapoor, Deputy Administrator (T-II), USO Fund, DoT, Mr. Ajay Karan Sharma, SHO, Parliament Street Police Station, and Mr. Manish Kumar, Sub-Inspector, Parliament Street Police Station, for causing interference with the administration of justice. 

The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, however, refused to issue notice upon the Delhi Police Officials alleged to be interfering with the administration of justice and posted the matter for September 17, 2021, along with the main petition.

The petitioner organization was represented by Advocate Prashant Bhushan, while the Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor Generals Chetan Sharma and Vikramjit Banerjee.  

Arguments raised

Adv Prashant Bhushan submitted that before the hearing of the petition, a notice was served upon the signing authority of the petitioner organization by a Delhi Police Officer, directing him to comply with certain directions specified in the notice and to face criminal action in event of failure to comply with the said directions. 

“They are directly threatening the petitioner in this case, who has brought important information before this Court, showing how thousands of crores of public money is being looted,” he said.

Mr. Banerjee alleged that this is proxy litigation and that the statements are being made without any basis. 

Background 

At the outset, public interest litigation was filed by Telecom Watchdog in June last year alleging a grant of contracts worth hundreds of thousands of crores by the Government, under the USO Fund, to private companies without following any tender process. The plea claims that the cash-rich Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund, which was created by the government for the purpose of funding unviable telecom projects, will devise new projects, take approval from the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) for awarding it to a private company named CSC SPV, which in turn would pass on the same to its wholly-owned subsidiary, which in turn would further assign the contract to various other private entities, without any tender.

The Notice was issued in the main matter in December last year. 

Contempt petition 

The instant application has been filed contending that the Secretary of the Telecom Watchdog is being harassed and pressurized by Delhi Police Officials in respect of a complaint filed against him at the behest of the Department of Telecommunications for an investigation into the leak of certain documents belonging to the Department, which have been filed by him in the matter. It is claimed that the said documents are not secret or confidential documents and could also be made available by DoT under the RTI Act.

The application thus reads: “The conduct of the Delhi Police in calling the Secretary of the Petitioner Organisation to the Police Station and subsequently asking him to reveal/disclose the source of the documents filed before this Hon’ble Court and to face consequences if he doesn’t do so, is direct and blatant interference with the due course of judicial proceedings and obstruction of the administration of justice, amounting to criminal contempt of this Hon’ble Court.”/ILNS/BG/KR/SNG

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