Telecom Majors Move SC, Seek Review of Certain Directions on AGR

The apex court had on 24 October upheld the AGR definition formulated by the Department of Telecom (DoT)

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Telecom majors, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking review of certain directions passed in its judgement favouring the government on recovering past dues, amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore, based on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of about Rs 92,000 crore from telecom service providers.

The apex court had on 24 October upheld the AGR definition formulated by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and termed as "frivolous" the nature of objections raised by the telecom service providers.

Bharti Airtel, in its fresh plea, has sought review of the directions on the aspects of levy of interest, penalty and interest on penalty relating to AGR, a source related to the development said.

One of the review petitions has sought open court hearing in the matter.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Parliament on Wednesday that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies owe the government as much as Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues.

He added that there is no proposal at present to waive interest and penalties on such dues.

In replies to separate questions in the Lok Sabha, Prasad said telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

In an affidavit filed earlier in the top court, the DoT said that Airtel owed Rs 21,682.13 crore as licence fee to the government and dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 19,823.71 crore, while Reliance Communications owed Rs 16,456.47 crore. BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore and MTNL, Rs 2,537.48 crore.

Holding that interest and penalty have rightly been levied on the telecom companies, the apex court had made it clear that there would be no further litigation on the issue and it would fix a time-frame for calculation and payment of dues by the telecom companies.

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