NEW DELHI :
GAIL (India) Ltd plans to move the Supreme Court on Thursday against its October verdict on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues that has hit telcos and also made non-telecom firms holding licences for internal communications and signalling liable to pay licence fees on their entire revenue, a person with knowledge of the matter told Mint.
The deadline to pay these dues is Thursday, 23 January.
Among non-telecom companies, DoT has sought ₹1.72 trillion from GAIL (India) Ltd, ₹48,000 crore from Oil India Ltd, ₹22,168 crore from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, ₹15,019 crore from Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd and ₹5,841 crore plus interest from Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (DMRC), among others.
GAIL’s plea, when filed, will follow other state-owned companies such as Oil India and Delhi Mtero Rail Corporation (DMRC) which have already filed similar pleas.
Oil India on Wednesday filed a modification plea before the top court against its October verdict. “Oil India has taken up this matter with the department of telecommunications and the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, along with other affected central public sector enterprises, and explained the non-applicability of interpretation of AGR to non telecom companies," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
DMRC too has moved court seeking clarification stating that DoT’s “unjust demand" would lead to “evaporation of financial structure of DMRC and would lead to operations coming to a standstill to the great detriment of the commuting public of NCR region".
Mint has seen copies of Oil India’s and DMRC’s petition.
Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals told stock exchanges on 1 January that it was seeking legal advice on DoT’s demand notice and the judgement.
Telecom companies Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel said they will await the Supreme Court order before paying AGR dues to the government.
Vodafone Idea, the worst hit by the top court’s order on telecom dues will await the hearing of its modification plea that it had filed earlier this week seeking easier payment terms before clearing its AGR dues, Mint had reported earlier on Thursday.
Vodafone Idea owes over ₹50,000 crore to DoT, while Bharti Airtel has to pay ₹35,586 crore. Tata Teleservices, which sold its mobile services business to Airtel, has dues of ₹14,000 crore. Jio owes ₹60 crore as it started operations only in 2016.
While the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear modification pleas filed by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices next week, it did not comment on the status of the original payment deadline.
This means that DoT can press for dues if the 23 January deadline is not adhered to.
Failure to pay the dues before the deadline may invite contempt of court proceedings against defaulters, legal experts believe.
It remains to be seen whether DoT will raise a fresh demand notice to the telcos that don’t adhere to the deadline to pay dues.
The 24 October court order that ended the 14-year legal battle between telcos and the department of telecommunications (DoT) asked India’s top wireless carriers to cough up more than ₹1 trillion in dues, straining their already precarious financial situation.