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Supreme Court dismisses telcos plea seeking relief from AGR dues of ₹1.47 lakh crore

The Supreme Court on Thursday has dismissed the plea of telecom majors including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and Reliance Jio wanting relief from the past dues of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) amounting to around ₹1.47 lakh crore.

While Airtel has dues of over ₹35,500 crore, Vodafone Idea needs to pay more than ₹53,000 crore. Tata Teleservices, which has sold its consumer mobility business to Airtel, faces dues of ₹13,823 crore.

Reacting to the Supreme Court’s (SC) verdict, Airtel said that it was disappointed and evaluating filing a curative petition, on the same.

Also read: Airtel evaluates curative petition on Adjusted Gross Revenue

“While respecting the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine. The industry continues to face severe financial stress and the outcome could further erode the viability of the sector as a whole,” a spokesperson at the company said.

It said that the industry needs to continue to invest in expanding networks, acquiring spectrum and introducing new technologies like 5G. “The money now required to pay punitive interest, penalty and interest on penalty which forms nearly 75 per cent of AGR dues would have better served the digital mission of the country,” it added.

The Supreme Court, on October 24 had ordered telcos to pay up statuary dues by January 23 following which the operators had sought a limited review of ruling.

The telcos had sought review of certain directions of the SC on recovery of past dues amounting to ₹1.47 lakh crore from telecom service providers. The recovery of past dues by the government was based on AGR of around ₹92,000 crore.

India’s top court has listed the limited review petitions by telecom companies against the AGR verdict, which widened the definition of AGR to include non-core revenue, leaving telcos and even non-telcos facing hefty statutory dues of more than ₹4.45 lakh.

Source: The Hindu