Sunday, September 25, 2022

Airtel considers filing curative petition after SC dismisses telcos’ pleas seeking review of AGR verdict

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Moments after the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition of telcos for relief on the payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue(AGR) amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore, Bharti Airtel officially shared its disappointment with the judgement and is now considering filing a curative petition in the matter.

The deadline for the telecom companies to make the payment is January 24 as decided by the apex court.

The three telcos had filed separate petitions in the court, seeking a review of the penalties and interest on the dues, and had questioned some components of non-core items that the court had said should be included while computing AGR of telcos.

The review plea was dismissed on Thursday by a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah without going into the merits of the plea.

The Supreme Court earlier on October 24 had ordered the telcos to pay the statutory dues by January 23 following which the major telecom players approached the apex court to review its earlier directions on the recovery of past dues amounting to 1.47 lakh crore, saying it would have “severe financial implications’ and an adverse impact on the economy.

It had upheld the AGR definition formulated by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and termed as “frivolous” the nature of objections raised by telecom service providers. The court said the sector had long reaped the fruits of the Centre’s liberalised mode of payment by the revenue sharing regime. However, the service providers failed to fulfil their obligations to the government and raised frivolous objections.“The telecom service providers, in spite of the financial benefits of the package, started to ensure that they do not pay the licence fee to the public exchequer based on an agreed AGR,” the Court had said.

The court had noted that the demand was raised for the first time in the year 2003 despite the fact that the definition of gross revenue was clear.  The licensees, that is the telecom companies, had initially questioned inclusion on the basis of the validity of the definition of gross revenue. The court had in a previous judgement, already dismissed those challenges. Yet, the companies again sought to get the components excluded from the definition of the gross revenue. The court had barred it on res judicata and further held the interest levied and compounded on the defaulting amount to be valid under the contractual stipulation of the license agreement.

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