India

HC refuses to entertain plea on telcos

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition seeking directions to telecom firms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for not charging offices, shops or business establishments which were “compulsorily” closed due to the lockdown amid the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19.

A division bench of the high court presided over by Justices Vipin Sanghi and Yogesh Khanna while hearing the matter through video conferencing, observed that the Supreme Court has already dealt with a similar issue and the High Court is not inclined to entertain the plea.

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Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for the petitioner, did not press the plea and withdrew it. Sahni during the course of hearing argued, “By virtue of compulsory lockdown, public is unable to visit workplace and therefor the telcos/ISP should not charge for lockdown period as public was under compulsion not to avail of services.”

He also submitted that a complete waiver of bills may sound unusual, but the companies are also under moral/social obligations in this regard.

The petition sought court's directions to all telephone operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) not to charge any amount for offices, shops, business houses, factories etc that remained “compulsorily closed” due to the lockdown.

The plea further prayed that if any amount has been received by the telecos or ISPs for “unused period of lockdowna, the same may be directed to be transmitted to Corona Relief Fund initiated by the Prime Minister of India.

“The pandemic of Covid-19 has affected everyone and particularly those who are not working in organized sector and having no financial backing are severely affected. There are numerous people, who might not be getting complete salary and there may many who have lost their jobs due to the present emergency faced by the country,” the plea said.

The petitioner made a representation on April 19 to the respondents to the telecommunication companies and ISPs to waive bills of offices, shops, business houses etc., which remained closed during the period of lockdown with a further request that the Ministry of Finance be directed not to levy GST on such bills during the period of lockdown in larger public interest, it said.

–IANS

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