Supreme Court pulls up DoT for claiming AGR dues from PSUs
On Thursday, a Supreme Court bench asked the telcos to file a joint affidavit giving a reasonable time-frame for repaying dues, measures to ensure timely payment and securities, undertakings and guarantees that they need to furnish.
The Supreme Court on Thursday spared state-run enterprises from its October 24 order setting out the definition of telecom sector revenues, while directing private mobile operators to submit a plan of action on how they intend to clear their dues.
The court granted three days to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to reconsider demands it has made from the state-run companies and file a compliance report on the next date of hearing, the court order said.
In February, DoT sent demand notices to state-run companies such as GAIL (India) Ltd and Power Grid Corp of India Ltd, apart from telecom operators, including Vodafone Idea Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd. This came after the Supreme Court upheld DoT’s definition of adjusted gross revenues (AGR) as inclusive of all revenues of a company holding telecom license, including non-telecom revenues such as rent and dividend, to calculate government dues. The SC order made telecom firms liable to pay levies based on that definition, along with interest and penalty.
On Thursday, an apex court bench asked the telcos to file a joint affidavit giving a reasonable time-frame for repaying dues, measures to ensure timely payment and securities, undertakings and guarantees that they need to furnish.
Earlier this year, DoT filed a plea seeking a 20-year payment period for the dues. On Thursday, the court set conditions to consider such staggered payment.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the government had examined the impact on the economy if the telcos were forced to pay up the entire amount at one go. The results would create distrust in the sector as telcos may have to shut down. The court disagreed. “Nobody knows what will happen in the next 20 years, not even companies. Your plea of 20 years can’t be reasonable, especially when this matter is already pending for 20 years,” it said.