New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the modification pleas moved by state-owned companies in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) verdict that made non-telecom firms holding licences for internal communications and signalling liable to pay licence fees on their entire revenue, even if they do not offer telecom services.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde will likely hear next week the matter along with other modification pleas filed by telcos, seeking more time to pay off the dues and easier payment terms.
The 24 October order that ended a 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.
The non-telecom companies have also been hit hard. 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 Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd and ₹5,841 crore plus interest from Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (DMRC), among others.
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 had said.
DMRC had 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".
The government on Thursday said it will not take coercive action against mobile service providers that failed to meet the court-directed 23 January deadline to pay dues, after Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd sought more time.