Hours after the Supreme Court took a strong note of non-compliance with its order, the Department of Telecom (DoT) ordered firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear their dues before Friday midnight. The order asked telcos to clear dues by 11.59 pm Friday, news agency PTI reported.
The DoT started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to firms, an order seen by PTI said.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel in a letter offered to pay Rs 10,000 crore by February 20 and the rest before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.
Earlier in the day, the DoT withdrew its order which stated that no coercive action will be taken against telecom companies defaulting on statutory dues payment.
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The department’s move came after the apex court summoned the managing directors of the firms and directed them to pay an amount of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the DoT by the next hearing, which is on March 17.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer, and M R Shah expressed anguish over the order passed by DoT’s desk officer and stayed the effect of its verdict in AGR matter.
“We have dismissed the review plea in adjusted gross revenue case but still not a single penny has been deposited. Our conscience has been shaken by the way things are happening in the country,” the bench said.
“Pay up by the next date of hearing. This is the last opportunity all companies have. We must do this. Corruption of all kinds must stop,” it added.
The bench also sought an explanation from the telecom companies on why contempt action should not be initiated against them for non-compliance of its order.
“We don’t know who is creating this nonsense. Is there no law left in country… It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country,” the bench observed.
Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Centre. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR.
According to the DoT, the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecom company – including from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and sale of assets. The companies, however, have been of the view that AGR should comprise the revenues generated from telecom services only and non-telecom revenues should be kept out of it.
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