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Supreme Court seeks written response from govt on Ncell share deal



Kathmandu, Dec 20 : The Supreme Court (SC) of Nepal on Tuesday issued a show cause order in the name of the government in response to a writ petition regarding the sale of telecommunication company Ncell Axiata’s share.

A single bench of Justice Prakash Man Singh Raut issued the order in the name of the government to furnish written response within 15 days and has invited both the sides for discussions on whether to issue an interim order.

The next date for hearing has been fixed for January 1, 2024. The SC has asked to furnish the written response through the Attorney General within 15 days.

Member of House of Representative (HoR) Amresh Kumar Singh had lodged the petition at the SC naming Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Nepal Telecommunications Authority, Office of the Company Registrar, Inland Revenue Department and Ncell itself as the defendants on Ncell’s share sale deal.

The matter has been controversial because the shares were reportedly traded at a very low amount. In 2016, Sweden’s TeliaSonera Company sold 80 percent of its shares in Ncell to the Axiata for 1.365 billion US dollars but the same shares has now been sold for 50 million US dollars.

Questions have been raised from different walks of life over the legitimacy and transparency of the business deal as it was agreed without informing the regulatory body as well. According to Telecommunication Regulations, 2054 BS, the approval of Nepal Telecommunication Authority must be obtained before buying and selling shares of the telecom company. Similarly, Regulation 4 (a) of Nepal Telecommunications Authority Regulations, 2076 BS also provides that permission or approval of the NTA must be obtained before buying and selling or transferring shares of the shareholder.

The writ petition has stated that the share trade deal was carried out by breaching transparency and causing losses to the country and violating the legal processes.