Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are likely to file a review petition today against the Supreme Court's AGR verdict which held that all revenues, except for termination fee and roaming charges, will be a part of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR).
Telcos had argued that non-telecom, non-core revenues should not be a part of the AGR. The SC judgement exposed the incumbent telcos to demands by DOT of up to Rs 1.33 lakh crore.
“You are entitled as a party to seek a review of the entire judgement, especially in the case of this judgement which in my view proceeds on a wrong premise," said senior advocate Meet Malhotra.
Speaking about the fundamental error, he said, “...(the interest) is almost three times the amount of what they (telecom companies) have to pay as the principle. The court refused, saying 'no, you have been in litigation for long', as if the telecom companies were abusing the litigation process, whereas the fact of the matter is that from 2002, the telecom operators have won four rounds of litigation.”
“The telecom sector has been very badly hit by certain judgements of the SC. The governments are scared of giving relief to the private operators... because you never know, another few years down the line, some PIL comes up and says that the government went out of its way to benefit XYZ... therefore, nobody today wants to give one rupee benefit to the operator even if it is clearly entitled to it,” Malhotra further mentioned.
The government and the telecom companies were locked in a legal battle in the 14-year-old case over the definition of AGR, on the basis of which the telecom department calculates levies payable by companies.