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The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to list next week the fresh pleas of telecom firms seeking a fresh schedule of payment of statutory dues of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications. The firms include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde took note of submissions of the counsels for the firms and said it would list the fresh pleas “sometime in next week” before the same bench which had heard the earlier petition in the high-stake matter, agencies reported.

“We are not disputing the payment to be made by us rather we want working out a fresh schedule of payment,” counsel for the firms told the bench which also comprised Justices SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.

The telcos said they wanted an open court hearing on their fresh pleas with regard to working out a fresh schedule of payment of their dues.

“That (open court or in-chamber hearing) will be decided by the bench concerned,” the CJI said.

The joint plea came to be filed before the Supreme Court on Monday.

The apex court had on last year October 24 upheld the AGR definition formulated by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and termed as “frivolous” the nature of objections raised by several 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 review pleas against the October 24 judgment were dismissed by the apex court on January 16 this year.

— India Legal Bureau

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