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legal | IST

Supreme Court to consider allowing telcos to pay AGR dues over 20 years

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In what could be a pivotal day for the Indian telecom sector, the Supreme Court will take up the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case on Thursday.

In what could be a pivotal day for the Indian telecom sector, the Supreme Court will take up the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case on Thursday.
The Justice Arun Mishra-led bench of the court is likely to consider the issue of allowing telecom firms to pay the mammoth AGR dues worth Rs 1.43 lakh crore in a staggered fashion spread over 20 years.
In March, before the commencement of the ongoing coronavirus-forced lockdown, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had moved the Supreme Court proposing staggered payment over 20 years for telecom firms to discharge their AGR dues.
The DoT had said that immediate payment would result in possible bankruptcies and could potentially hurt crores of customers. It proposed the 20-year formula on the back of license fee and spectrum usage charges dues worth 1.43 lakh crore that was upheld by the apex court in its October 2019 judgment.
However, the Supreme Court on March 18 come down heavily on the DoT for allowing telcos the facility of self-assessing their dues payable. The Supreme Court had lashed out at the DoT, calling it fraudulent and contemptuous of the court for the DoT to allow telcom firms to rework the amounts payable in contravention of the court’s order.
The court, however, had observed that it was open to consider the issue of staggered payment over 20 years, as proposed by the DoT.
There were no subsequent hearings on account of the lockdown, which limited proceedings in the Supreme Court.
Vodafone Idea has paid 6,854 crore of its dues, while the DoT’s demand of the firm stands at Rs 58,254 crore. The company’s self-assessment pegged its dues at Rs 21,533 crore.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 18,004 crore so far against the DoT’s demands of Rs 43,980 crore. The company estimates its dues at Rs 13,004 crore.