Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel exploring options; mull filing curative petition after SC dismisses review plea on AGR issue

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

  • Vodafone Idea, reeling under massive debt of around Rs 1.17 lakh crore, had earlier cited acute financial stress on the company behind the decision to raise mobile call and data charges

  • As per DoT's estimate, the liability of Bharti Airtel Group is Rs 62,187.73 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 54,183.9 crore and BSNL and MTNL Rs 10,675.18 crore

New Delhi: Debt-ridden telecom firm Vodafone Idea on Thursday said it is exploring further options, including filing of a curative petition after the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed its review plea on AGR matter.

The apex court dismissed the plea of telecom majors, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, seeking review of certain directions of the apex court on recovery of past dues amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore from telecom service providers, according to a PTI report.

 Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel exploring options; mull filing curative petition after SC dismisses review plea on AGR issue

"...we wish to inform you that Hon'ble Supreme Court, has dismissed the review petition filed by the Company and other telecom operators. The Company is exploring further options, including filing of a Curative Petition," Vodafone Idea said in a stock exchange filing.

Vodafone Idea, reeling under massive debt of around Rs 1.17 lakh crore, had earlier cited acute financial stress on the company behind the decision to raise mobile call and data charges.

According to an internal estimate prepared by Department of Telecom (DoT), total dues on the telecom service providers arising out of SC order are around Rs 1.33 lakh crore.

As per DoT's estimate, the liability of Bharti Airtel Group is Rs 62,187.73 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 54,183.9 crore and BSNL and MTNL Rs 10,675.18 crore.

Airtel, Vodafone dues

In July, the Centre had told the apex court that leading private telecom firms like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and state-owned MTNL and BSNL have pending licence fee outstanding of over Rs 92,000 crore till date.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and state-owned MTNL and BSNL have pending licence fee outstanding of over Rs 92,000 crore till date, the Centre had told the Supreme Court earlier.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, Department of Telecom (DoT) said that as per calculations, Airtel owes Rs 21,682.13 crore as licence fee to the government.

Dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 19,823.71 crore while Reliance Communications owed a total of Rs 16,456.47 crore, DoT said.

BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore while MTNL owed Rs 2,537.48 crore, it said.

The total amount which has to be recovered from all the telecom firms accrues to Rs 92,641.61 crore as on date, it said.

New telecom policy and AGR

As per the New Telecom Policy, telecom licensees are required to share a percentage of their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) with the government as annual License Fee (LF).

In addition, mobile telephone operators were also required to pay Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) for the use of radio frequency spectrum allotted to them.

Telecom operators had moved the top court against the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal's (TDSAT) order which ruled that certain non-telecom revenues like rent, profit on sale of fixed assets, dividend and treasury income would be counted as adjusted gross revenue (AGR), on which licence fee would have to be paid to the government.

The TDSAT order had exempted a large number of streams from the definition of AGR, like capital receipts, bad debt, distribution margins to dealers, forex fluctuations, sale of scrap and waiver of late fee.

The telecom tribunal also said revenue from non-core sources such as rent, profit on sale of fixed assets, dividend, interest and miscellaneous income must be included while computing a carrier's AGR, dealing a setback to telecom operators who would have to shell out more towards licence and spectrum usage fees.

---With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2020 08:30:15 IST