Home / Industry / Telecom /  Vodafone Idea to repay AGR dues in next few days

NEW DELHI : Vodafone Idea, which was the worst hit by the Supreme Court order in the case related to adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues on Friday, is in the process of assessing the dues it will be able to pay to the government and will pay this in the next few days, the company said in an exchange filing on Saturday.

“We wish to inform that post the hearing yesterday, the company has received letters from Department of Telecommunications (DoT) directing immediate payment," Vodafone Idea said on Saturday.

The company is currently assessing the amount that it will be able to pay to DoT and it proposes to pay the amount so assessed in the next few days, Vodafone Idea said.

The company did not divulge how it plans to raise the money to pay off the dues.

The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up mobile service operators and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for failing to comply with its verdict, which mandated telecom companies to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of over 1 trillion to the DoT by 23 January.

The development came as a fresh blow for Vodafone Idea, once India’s largest telco by subscriber base.

Vodafone Idea owes DoT over 50,000 crore.

The company is in a perilous state after a more than three year-long battle in the hyper-competitive telecom sector, which has shrunk its revenue streams and saddled it with debt.

“This case projects a very disturbing scenario. The companies have violated the order passed by this court in pith and substance. In spite of the dismissal of the review application, they have not deposited any amount so far. It appears the way in which things are happening that they have scant respect to the directions issued by this court," the Supreme Court order had said on Friday.

Ending a 14-year-long court battle, the apex court on 24 October had upheld the government’s broader definition of revenue, on which it calculates levies on telecom operators. The order had dealt a body blow to the telecom industry.

Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices last month filed modification pleas seeking more time to pay AGR-related dues which the apex court had agreed to hear.

Following which, the DoT had on 23 January asked its officers not to take coercive action against telcos for non-payment of dues.

The top court judges hearing the case made scathing remarks about an unnamed desk officer for passing such an order.

“In the circumstances, we draw contempt proceedings against the desk officer for passing the order and violating the order passed by this court. The managing directors/directors of the companies also to show cause why we should not initiate contempt proceedings against them for violating the order passed by this court by not depositing the amount, on the next date of hearing… It is made clear that in case the order passed by this court is not complied with, the above persons shall remain personally present in court on the next date of hearing," the order said.

After the court hearing on Friday, the DoT asked all telecom companies to repay AGR dues by the end of the day in order to comply with the October verdict of the Supreme Court.

“You are hereby directed to make the payment of outstanding dues of licence fee and spectrum usage charges by 11.59pm on 14 February positively," the DoT letter said.

In response, Bharti Airtel said it will deposit 10,000 crore as part payment for AGR dues to the DoT by 20 February and the balance before 17 March as it needs time to complete the exercise of calculating dues across 22 circles.

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