SC admits plea of telecom companies on AGR verdict

Supreme Court on 22nd January admitted the pleas of the Telecom industry on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) verdict. They are likely to hear the matter next week, beyond the 23 January deadline given to telecom operators. This was an emergency plea filed by three Telecom companies: Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices.

The emergency plea was filed in response to the verdict given by the Supreme Court on 24th October 2019 ordering the telecom industries to pay more than ₹1 trillion of AGR dues by 23 January. The verdict upheld the Department of Telecommunications (DoT’s) claim that revenues included revenue from all sources, not just revenue from telecom as contended by the telecom industry. As a result of this verdict Airtel would have to pay ₹35,586 crores, Vodafone Idea ₹50,000 crore, and Tata Teleservices ₹14,000 crore.

The operators want to be allowed to negotiate conditions and schedules for payment of statutory dues with the DOT. Vodafone argued that without relief, they will have to shut down this will disrupt the mobile connections of many and people will lose jobs. Bharti Airtel earlier this month raised 3 billion dollars to pay the amount due. They contended that the calculations are complex and couldn’t be completed within a three months window.  The companies are also contemplating filing a curative petition.

The DOT, on the other hand, claimed that if the companies are willing to pay a part of the dues by 23rd January, they will be willing to negotiate with the Telecom industry.

The bench hearing this matter will be headed by Justice Arun Mishra who also headed the AGR verdict.


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