Telecoms pay percentage of their revenue as license fee to government.The Supreme Court today sharply rebuked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for demanding Rs Four lakh crore from state-run firms & accused it of misusing an earlier judgment.
A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer & M R Shah raised questions on the demand raised by the government from the PSU’s and said that its verdict in the case was misinterpreted as the issue of their dues based on AGR was not dealt with by the apex court.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the telecom department, said the government has come out with a bailout plan. “It would be difficult for the companies to pay the amount in one go. If court objects , it will adversely impact the telecom sector, affect network, & the consumers will ultimately suffer,” he said.
Hearing the case on AGR-related dues of telecom companies
including Vodafone Idea, Tata Teleservice, and Bharti Airtel, the court directed mobile operators to furnish details with respect to the revenue earned by them and their plan of action as to how they intend to clear the AGR dues.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for DoT, told the bench that it would file an affidavit explaining as to why the AGR demands were raised against the PSUs. The bench also asked private telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, et al to file affidavits giving details as to how they will pay the AGR dues.
The Cash strapped Vodafone Idea has warned that it would be forced to shut shop in the absence of any relief on its AGR dues, which the government had estimated Rs 58,254 crore. The telco has so far paid Rs 6,854 crore.Bharti Airtel has so far paid Rs18,000 crore of the Rs 43,980 crore demanded by DoT, while Tata Teleservices’ has paid Rs 4,197 crore of the Rs 16,798 crore arrears.The Supreme Court observes that the demand against PSUs must be withdrawn.