NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday lambasted the telecom companies and the telecom department asking why the dues were not paid following a long-standing dispute of the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and asked companies to pay a sizeable amount by Friday.
The court has also issued the contempt notice to a government official who had sent a notification directing that no coercive action would be taken for the time being for recovery of the dues to telecom circles.
The court has refused to defer hearing despite the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s plea and asked the government to withdraw the controversial order allowing telcos to delay payment, and sought the presence of managing directors of telecom companies.
The next hearing is on March 17.
Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices have sought more time to make payment for adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related outstanding, following the top court’s direction on October 24, 2019.
The telecom carriers have sought the court to allow negotiation with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on payment terms for their statutory dues.
On January 16, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed review petitions of telecom companies.
The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has asked companies to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by January 23.
Meanwhile, the court allowed the public sector firms to withdraw their petitions, though they could challenge the demand separately.
Vodafone Idea has to pay Rs 53,000 crore in outstanding that includes licence fees, spectrum usage charges, interest, and penalties. Sunil Mittal-driven Bharti Airtel has been asked to pay Rs 35,000 crore and similarly Tata Teleservices, which has sold its consumer mobility business to Bharti Airtel faces Rs 14,000 crore in dues.
“The definition of gross revenue is crystal clear in the agreement. How the adjusted gross revenue to be arrived at is also evident,” the court mentioned in its previous verdict.
In compliance with the ruling, Sunil Mittal-driven Bharti Airtel in a statement said that it would pay an initial amount of Rs 10,000 crore by February 20 to the government and would also pay the remaining by the next scheduled date of hearing on March 17.
Earlier, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) said that some non-telecom revenues such as profit on the sale of fixed assets, rent, and dividends and treasury income would not be treated as AGR while considering the licence fee to the government.