Bharti Airtel pays Rs 10,000 cr AGR dues to telecom department; balance amount to be paid after self-assessment
After Supreme Court rap and the government's stringent deadline, Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has paid Rs 10,000 crore to the telecom department towards statutory dues
The telecom department on 1 February began issuing orders asking firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear past dues immediately
The DoT, which faced the ire of the Supreme Court for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies, had started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to the firms
Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government
New Delhi: With the government coming down heavily on telcos after the Supreme Court's rap, Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has paid Rs 10,000 crore to the telecom department towards statutory dues.
The company said it will make payment of balance amount after self-assessment exercise.
"The...amount of Rs 10,000 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel, Bharti Hexacom, and Telenor," the Sunil Mittal-led company said in a statement.
Bharti Airtel makes payment of Rs 10,000 Cr to @DoT_India for #AGR dues, co says remaining payment will be made once self-assessment exercise completes before the next date of SC hearing, scheduled for March 17 pic.twitter.com/wMVXvex2m9
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) February 17, 2020
As much as Rs 9,500 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel (including Telenor India which merged with the company), and another Rs 500 crore for Bharti Hexacom.
As per the government's assessment, Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore in statutory dues, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge.
After facing the ire of the Supreme Court for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies, the telecom department on 14 February began issuing orders asking firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear past dues immediately.
The DoT swung into action and started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to firms, asking telcos cough up their liabilities immediately or face action in line with licence terms without any further notice.
Some circles like UP (West) insisted that payment be made by Friday 11.59 PM, while others like UP (East) zone said its field office will remain open even on Saturday (15 February) to facilitate payment of liabilities by companies - underlining the telecom department's resolve to collect the unpaid dues at the earliest and indicating its unwillingness to yield further on timelines.
On 14 February (Friday), Airtel had said it will pay Rs 10,000 crore to the Department of Telecommunications by 20 February and the remaining before 17 March.
But on Monday, the company rushed to make part payments and said, "we are in the process of completing the self assessment exercise expeditiously and will duly make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing in (the) SC".
The company said it will also submit supporting details at the time of making balance payment.
In all, 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore -- Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.
These dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, had upheld the government's position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.
The apex court last week directed the managing directors and directors of telcos and other firms to explain why contempt action be not taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the DoT.
Taking strong note of the non-compliance of its order, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah expressed anguish over the order passed by the DoT's desk officer, staying the effect of its verdict in the AGR matter.
Vodafone Idea Ltd is confronted with the dues worth Rs 53,000 crore - its liabilities add up to Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee.
Vodafone Idea, in a regulatory filing on Saturday, had said it is assessing the amount that can be paid towards AGR dues, although it reiterated that continuation of business in India will depend on "a positive outcome" of its modification plea filed before the apex court.
"The company proposes to pay the amount so assessed in the next few days," VIL had said.
Her comment came a day after Supreme Court in a landmark order put on hold the controversial sedition law till the Centre completes a promised review of the colonial relic and also asked the central and state governments not to register any fresh case invoking the act
The colonial-era sedition law has been invoked against the likes of author Arundhati Roy, student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi among others
In its significant order on the law that has been under intense public scrutiny, a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said there was a need to balance the interest of civil liberties and interests of citizens with that of the State