Synopsis: Telecom companies are required to pay AGR dues along with interest and penalty valued at about Rs 1.6 lakh crore.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed telecom companies 10 years to pay the government their outstanding adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, amounting to approximately Rs 1.6 lakh crore. The supreme court has required telecommunications firms to pay up to 10% of their AGR dues by March 31, 2021.
Justice Arun Mishra said that the telecom companies have to pay the dues in annual instalments starting on April 1, 2021 until March 31, 2031. Default on payment instalments will attract court interest, punishment and contempt, a three-judge apex court said.
The bench, granting relief to companies, ordered them to pay annual instalments by the end of each financial year and made it clear that failure in payment would not only make them liable for contempt but would also have to pay penalty for delay in payment. The bench also asked the managing director (MDs) or chief executive (CEOs) of the telecom concerned to furnish the undertaking or personal guarantee for payment of duties within four weeks.
The court also said that the National Company Law Tribunal would decide the question of disposal of spectrum by telcoms facing insolvency proceedings. Telecom operators and the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta had sought more time to repay the dues citing financial stress and the impact on the economy. Telecom companies were demanding a timeline of 15 years while the government had suggested to give them 20 years.
Out of Bharti Airtel’s nearly Rs 43,000 crore total dues, the company has paid nearly Rs 18,000 crore, Vodafone Idea has paid a total of Rs 7,854 crore to DoT towards the AGR dues, against its total AGR dues of around Rs 58,000 crore. While, total AGR dues for Tata Teleservices, as per the DoT, stands at Rs 16,789 crore, out of which the company has Rs 4,197 crore so far.