Supreme Court on Wednesday, 18 March, lashed out at the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Indian telcos for seeking a 20 year period to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.
Furious at this incident, the SC said it will draw contempt proceedings against MDs of telcos if they publish fake news against court on AGR dues.
In addition to this, SC directed that no self-assessment or re-assessment of AGR dues be done by telecom companies or they will be held for contempt of court.
“Our judgement on AGR dues is full and final, it should be followed in letter and spirit”, as ordered by the Supreme Court.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S A Nazeer, and M R Shah refused to take up the Centre's plea for allowing telecom companies to pay AGR dues in 20 years, saying the application will be taken up after two weeks.
SC was also abundantly clear that seeking 20 year period to make the payment is unreasonable, and ordered the telcos to clear their respective dues as given in the previous judgement.
The latest development will come as a big jolt to Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) which has been in desperate need of a reprieve from the government as well as the Supreme Court in the matter. The company has repeatedly stated that with the burden of paying the dues, continuing business in the country will no longer be financially viable for them.
This ruling from the Supreme Court hits VIL from all directions. First, the proposal to make the payment over 20 years was straight away quashed, and if that wasn’t enough, VIL and other telcos have been asked to pay the amount which was given the judgment.
With the judgement unlikely to go in their favour, DoT along with the telcos will now be forced to hike mobile data tariffs in the country, which as per recent reports were expected to go up by 10x from its current rates.