DoT to file status report on AGR dues in Supreme Court

The telecom department is gearing up to file a status report in the Supreme Court, informing that , Bharti and have not paid any amount towards their AGR dues beyond the Rs 30,055 crore initially paid.

According to government officials, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will need to inform the SC by April 7 the status of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) paid as on March 31. “We will file a status report in the SC shortly,” one of the officials said.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had ruled on September 1 that the telecom operators must pay 10% of the total AGR dues as demanded by DoT by March 31, 2021 and the remainder in equal instalments every financial year up to March 31, 2031.

Vodafone Idea (Vi), Airtel and Tata Tele have said that they have already paid more than 10% of their total AGR dues and don’t need to pay anything by March 31, 2021.

However, DoT’s interpretation is that the court meant 10% of the remaining AGR dues when it asked the operators to pay that much by end of FY21 as it was aware of the payments they already made.

Airtel, Vi and Tata Tele have so far paid over Rs 18,000 crore, Rs 7,854 crore and Rs 4,197 crore, respectively, in late 2019 and early 2020.

Airtel believes it doesn’t need to pay any instalments for four years, while Vi said it needs to pay the next instalment only by March 2022.

The three telcos – from whom DoT has demanded a total of Rs 1.19 lakh crore in AGR dues – did not respond to ET’s queries as of press time Wednesday.

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The telcos have, in fact, filed separate petitions in the top court, pointing out errors in DoT’s calculation of the AGR dues, and a senior executive of one of the firms said they will await the apex court’s instructions after hearing their pleas before making any further payments.

“If the top court accepts our petition, it will be a whole different AGR number altogether,” the executive said.

In the beginning of this year, Vi has appealed to the court to modify or clarify its order to allow the government to consider the telco’s submissions on the calculation errors and rectify them accordingly. Vi has to pay Rs 58,400 crore in AGR dues, of which it has paid Rs 7,854 crore. The telco had self-assessed its dues at Rs 21,533 crore, which the Supreme Court had rejected.

Airtel has sought modification, clarification or recall of “mistaken orders” that allowed the government to demand Rs 43,980 crore as AGR dues against the telco’s calculation of Rs 13,004 crore.

Both telcos highlighted the manifold increase in AGR dues as a result of “arithmetical errors”.

Tata Tele told the court that the demands of the DoT exceeded its deemed revenue and added up to more than the book balance. The telco has AGR dues of Rs 16,798 crore.



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