AGR related dues: SC to pass orders on telecoms' pleas raising issue of error in calculation
SC said it would hear other applications, including those raising the question of whether airwaves or spectrum can be transferred or sold by telecoms as part of their assets, after two weeks.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would pass orders on applications filed by telecom majors -- Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Tele Services Ltd -- raising the issue of alleged errors in the calculation of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) related dues payable by them.
The apex court in September last year had given the telecom service providers 10 years time to pay Rs 93,520 crores of AGR related dues to clear their outstanding amount to the government.
A bench headed by Justice L N Rao referred to the earlier order passed by the apex court in the matter and observed that no re-assessment of AGR related dues can be done.
However, the companies submitted that arithmetical errors can be rectified and there are cases of duplication of entries.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone Idea, said they were not blaming the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for it as there are arithmetical entries.
He said they want to place the entries before the department so that they can re-consider it.
The bench also observed that the top court had earlier said that there can't be any re-assessment.
Rohatgi said figures are not cast in stone and several tribunals don't have the power of review but they do have the power to correct arithmetical errors.
"Allow me to place these entries before DoT and let them take a call on this, he said, making it clear that they were not seeking any extension of time."
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Airtel, said there are cases of duplication and also of payments made but not accounted for.
He said these issues should be considered by the DoT.
"I don't want to pay thousands of crores on account of these errors," Singhvi said.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Tata Tele Services Ltd, said rectification of errors in calculation can be done.
The bench observed that it was only looking at the bar on re-assessment which was imposed by earlier orders.
The bench then asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the DoT, about the issue raised by these telecos.
I must point out that I don't have the instructions on this, he said, adding that he can take instructions on this within two days.
"It may be a little hazardous for me to make a statement without taking instructions. Within a day or two, I will get concrete instructions," he said.
After hearing the submissions, the bench, also comprising justices S A Nazeer and M R Shah, said it would pass an order on the issue.
The top court said some other applications, including those raising the question of whether airwaves or spectrum can be transferred or sold by telecoms as part of their assets, would be heard after two weeks.
In its September last year order, the apex court had said that the telecom operators shall make the payment of 10 per cent of the total dues as demanded by DoT by March 31, 2021, and the rest amount to be paid in yearly instalments commencing from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2031.
The top court, which had held that demand raised by the DoT in respect of AGR dues will be final, had said there shall be no dispute raised by the telcos and that there shall not be any re-assessment.
The apex court had in October 2019 delivered its verdict on the AGR issue.
The DoT in March last year had moved a plea in the top court seeking permission for allowing staggered payment of the dues by telcos over a period of 20 years.