AGR row: Setback for telcos, Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking review of verdict on Rs 1.47 lakh cr dues recovery

  • The recovery of past dues by the government was based on adjusted gross revenue of about Rs 92,000 crore

  • A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, S A Nazeer and M R Shah did not find merit in the review plea

  • After the Supreme Court verdict, Bharti Airtel said, disappointed with SC dismissing AGR review plea, evaluating the option to file a curative petition

The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed the plea of Telecom majors, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, seeking review of certain directions of the Supreme Court on recovery of past dues amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore from telecom service providers.

The recovery of past dues by the government was based on adjusted gross revenue of about Rs 92,000 crore.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, S A Nazeer and M R Shah did not find merit in the review plea.

After the Supreme Court verdict, Bharti Airtel said, disappointed with SC dismissing AGR review plea, evaluating the option to file a curative petition.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Parliament in November that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies owe the government as much as Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues. He had added that there is no proposal at present to waive interest and penalties on such dues.

In replies to separate questions in the Lok Sabha, Prasad had said telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

The apex court had on 24 October last year upheld the AGR definition formulated by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and termed as "frivolous" the nature of objections raised by telecom service providers.

In an affidavit filed earlier in the top court, the DoT said Airtel owed Rs 21,682.13 crore as a licence fee to the government and dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 19,823.71 crore, while Reliance Communications owed Rs 16,456.47 crore. BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore, and MTNL Rs 2,537.48 crore.

Holding that interest and penalty have rightly been levied on the telecom companies, the apex court had made it clear that there would be no further litigation on the issue and it would fix a time-frame for calculation and payment of dues by the telecom companies.

(With PTI inputs)

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2020 17:54:21 IST