AGR Case: Supreme Court Reserves Order On Modification Of Dues

The Supreme Court of India has reserved its order on the plea by telecom companies seeking permission to request the government to correct statutory dues stemming from the expanded definition of adjusted gross revenue.

Vodafone Idea Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. are among the operators that have informed the court that there were certain arithmetical errors in Department Of Telecommunication’s assessment of the dues payable by the carriers.

In its appeal, Vodafone said the errors in their case amount to around Rs 5,932 crore of the principal, which will have a impact of four times the amount after taking into account the interest, penalty and interest on penalty.

“I am not arguing against the demand or seeking a review and I am not blaming the DoT,” said Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Vodafone.

Bharti Airtel, Tata Tele and others have made similar requests.

In its appeal, Bharti Airtel had said that the March application of the DoT itself mentioned that the dues were based on a preliminary assessment and were subject to further revisions.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that he does not have any instruction as of now on the issue and that he would need two days to revert.

In October 2019, the Supreme Court had ruled that non-core revenue must be included while calculating statutory levies, ending a 14-year-old legal battle between mobile operators and the government on the definition of AGR. That had increased the liabilities of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to more than Rs 90,000 crore.

Soon after, the companies had approached the court seeking more time for payment of dues. In September last year, the apex court had allowed for the payment of dues over 10 years.

A three-judge bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah reserved the order on Monday.

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