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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

‘Relief on AGR to non-telecom PSUs must come only from SC’

Senior DoT officials say it is unlikely to provide any relief.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi | Published: December 30, 2019 1:45:36 am
   Department of Telecommunications, psus seek relief under agr, adjusted gross revenue, supreme court verdict on agr, business news The DoT had written to GAIL in November asking them to pay Rs 1.72 lakh crore in AGR dues following the SC judgment upholding the government’s definition of AGR.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is unlikely to provide any relief to non-telecom public sector undertakings (PSUs) such as GAIL, Power Grid, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Rail Tel on the payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR). Any such relief, senior DoT officials said, must come only from the Supreme Court.

“Notices were sent and they have sent their replies, which we are examining. It will be premature for us to say anything right now. We believe that they will have to go to the Supreme Court and seek clarification on whether they are included or not (within the definition of AGR),” a DoT official said.

The DoT had written to GAIL in November asking them to pay Rs 1.72 lakh crore in AGR dues following the SC judgment upholding the government’s definition of AGR. The apex court had on October 24 ruled that for calculating the AGR owed by a company, the overall revenue of the firm had to be taken into consideration.

GAIL, Power Grid and other companies have, however, denied that they owe any monies to the DoT, and said they have already paid the amounts due to the government. The DoT, however, is of the view that the clarification on whether PSUs such as GAIL owe any money or not must come only from the SC.

“Suppose I issue you notice to pay something and you say it is not applicable. You have to challenge it somewhere. You cannot just send your reply and the matter ends there. If the government is asking you to pay, and you feel that it is not to be paid, then there is a mechanism by which you will challenge,” another DoT official said.

All parties in the AGR case, whether private or public, will have to ultimately approach only the apex court to seek any relief as everyone is bound by the SC judgment, the officials said.

“They (PSUs) have three types of licences. One is NLD, which is national long distance. The other is IP2, which is infrastructure provider 2. That and NLD are in a way related. The third is internet service provider licence. The Supreme Court judgment appears to cover all of them,” one of the officials of the Department said.

While telecom companies like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which owe close to Rs 100 lakh crore in AGR dues to the government, have filed review petitions in SC, it is not clear if others such as GAIL and DMRC have moved the apex court seeking any clarifications on the same.

“They will have to take a call. Our assessment is that it is applicable. We are not going into the logic part of it of whether it should be or it shouldn’t be. Because the Supreme Court order also says this time and in 2011 that nothing prevented them from making separate companies. This order also says that. They should answer this question as to why they did not do it,” the officials said.

Apart from GAIL, the DoT has also written to Power Grid asking it to pay Rs 1.25 lakh crore as AGR dues. Power Grid, too, has denied the dues and said that after adding the penalties it owes also Rs 22,168 crore.

PSUs deny owing money to DoT

– GAIL, Power Grid and other companies have denied that they owe any monies to the DoT, and said they have already paid the amounts due to the government

– The DoT, however, is of the view that the clarification on whether public sector undertakings such as GAIL owe any money or not must come only from the Supreme Court

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