Following the Supreme Court’s rap for failing to make adjusted gross revenue (AGR) payments by the stipulated deadline of January 23, at least three telecom companies made a part of their payments on Monday, and informed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) about their willingness to make the rest of the payment in due course.
On Monday, Bharti Airtel was the first one to inform the exchanges that it had made a payment of Rs 10,000 crore to the DoT.
This included a sum of Rs 500 crore for Bharti Hexacom, a subsidiary of the company, and Telenor India, which had merged with the parent company.
“The Company is in a process of completing the self-assessment exercise expeditiously and will make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement to exchanges.
Vodafone Idea, which faces a payout of more than Rs 53,000 crore, tried to persuade the apex court on Monday “for directions to be issued to the DoT to not take any coercive steps for recovery of AGR dues”.
The oral plea, however, was not entertained by the SC.
The coercive action, sources said, could be invocation of bank guarantees submitted by the company with the banks.
Later in the day, Vodafone Idea said it had made a payment of Rs 2,500 crore to the DoT, and would make of payment of Rs 1,000 crore by Friday.
”The Board will take further stock of the situation to see how further additional payments can be made,” it said in an update with exchanges.
The payment of Rs 3,500 crore is the principal amount of the AGR calculated by the company, sources said.
Last Friday, while saying that it was ready to make the AGR payment, Vodafone Idea had also mentioned that its ability to continue as a going concern was dependent on the outcome of its modification plea for the order, which had asked them to pay the AGR dues within three months.
Tata Teleservices — which faces a payout of close of Rs 14,000 crore — also said that it had paid Rs 2,197 crore to the DoT on Monday.
Both the DoT and the telecom operators had faced the ire of the SC over non-payment of AGR dues on time.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also issued show-cause notice to the telcos for not having paid the AGR dues on time.
On October 24, 2019, the apex court had upheld the DoT’s definition of AGR and said since the licencees had agreed to the migration packages, they were liable to pay the dues, the penalty on dues, and the interest on penalty due to the delay in payments. The SC had then given the telcos three months to clear their AGR dues.
That deadline ended on January 23, before which the telcos unsuccessfully tried to persuade the DoT to give them more time.
The total payout by all telecom companies could be as high as Rs 1.47 lakh crore after dues for spectrum usage charges (SUC) linked to the AGR payout are also taken into account.
Industry sources said that while Vodafone Idea may have to shell out as much as Rs 53,000 crore, Bharti Airtel will have to pay nearly Rs 35,590 crore. And Tata Teleservices, which sold its business to Bharti Airtel, will have to pay as much as Rs 14,000 crore in AGR dues.
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