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HC gives Citycell a month’s lifeline to continue business

Citycell, which is facing an imminent closure for failing to pay government dues, now been given a desperate one-month lifeline to be in business, reports bdnews24.com

The regulators BTRC on Aug 17 sent a notice to Bangladesh’s oldest mobile-phone operator, asking why it would not be shut down for failing pay back around Tk 4.78 billion in government dues despite repeated reminders.

The regulators had given the operator a month to respond.

Now the High Court has asked the authorities to give Citycell that much time, Sep 16, to continue its operations.

Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed’s bench gave the order on Monday after hearing a petition by Citycell.

Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud represented the operator while Barrister Reza-e-Rakib represented the BTRC.

Rakib later told bdnews24.com that Citycell on Sunday moved the court seeking a stay order on several matters, including the process to cancel the operator’s spectrum and licence, BTRC’s notice and a case initiated to collect the dues.

“The court heard the matters and then ordered to keep their plea in record. Also, it ordered that they be given the chance to carry on the activities until the deadline to respond to the BTRC notice.”

Based on that, Citycell now has until Sep 16 to continue its operations, the lawyer said.

In another development, the BTRC has given Citycell customers until Tuesday to switch to another operator.

Earlier on Monday afternoon, BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood said that Citycell will be shut down on Aug 23 midnight following the government’s directive.

After the High Court issued the orders, he told bdnews24.com: “Earlier we talked about the government order. Now the court has given (Citycell) time.”

The struggling operator last Wednesday said it has signed a deal with an investment firm to pay the dues to government and others.

Its Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations Taslim Ahmed told bdnews24.com that they hoped to settle the dues and ‘other issues’ with the money.

On Aug 16, the Posts and Telecommunications Division had ‘decided in principle’ to revoke Citycell’s licence.

After the biometric re-registration of SIM cards, the operator now has less than 200,000 subscribers.

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