The Supreme Court (SC), on Monday, has reserved its order on the timeline of payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to be paid by telcos, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea India (VIL) and Tata Teleservices.
Both Airtel and VIL had requested the apex court for a 15-year window to clear the dues.
The SC has reiterated that “there is no room for self assessment” and the telcos should treat the AGR dues estimated by the Department of Telecommunications as final.
A three-Judge bench of Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah heard the case and the next hearing has been scheduled for August 10.
The Centre had earlier urged the SC that up to 20 years be given to telecom companies for the payment of dues in a staggered manner. “We will not hear arguments for re-assessment even for a second,” the Bench said.
The Bench observed that 15 or 20 years is not a reasonable time period and the companies should come forward with appropriate time frame.
The apex court, in its hearing on June 18, had directed these operators to file audited balance sheets of the past 10 years and come up with payment proposals. It had also asked DoT to consider these proposals.
On the same day, the Centre had also decided to withdraw 96 per cent of the ₹4-lakh crore demand for AGR dues raised against non-telecom PSUs, including Power Grid Corporation of India, GAIL India, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals and Oil India.
Last week, the DoT had officially withdrawn the demand it had made earlier against these State-owned companies amounting to a total of ₹2.3-lakh crore.
On May 18, the SC had lashed out at the operators for self-assessing their outstanding AGR dues, saying they need to pay past dues with interest and penalty, totalling around ₹1.6-lakh crore.
As per DoT estimates, while Airtel has AGR dues of ₹43,980 crore, VIL has ₹51,400 and Tata ₹16,788 crore.
On Friday, VIL paid ₹1,000 crore as part payment to its dues. Before this, the company had paid ₹6,854 crore out of the total dues.
Similarly, Airtel had paid ₹18,004 crore and Tata paid ₹4,197 crore.