SC to hear non-oil PSUs' plea for modifications to AGR order
24 January 2020
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear the modification pleas moved by state-owned companies in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) verdict that made non-telecom firms holding licences for internal communications and signalling liable to pay licence fees on their entire revenue, even if they do not offer telecom services.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is seeking a total of over 2,63,000 crore as aggregated gross revenue payable by state-run non-telecom enterprises holding spectrum license for internal communications, besides the Rs92,000 crore that private telecom companies owe the telecom department.
DoT has sought Rs1,72,000 crore from GAIL (India) Ltd, Rs48,000 crore from Oil India Ltd, Rs22,168 crore from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, Rs15,019 crore from Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd and Rs5,841 crore plus interest from Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (DMRC), among others .
While the 24 October 2019 Supreme Court order ended a 14-year legal battle between telcos and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and directed the country’s major telecom service providers to pay up about Rs92,000 crore in overdue lincence fee and revenue share to the government, telcos have moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of the order.
The government on Thursday said it will not take coercive action against mobile service providers that failed to meet the court-directed 23 January deadline to pay dues, after Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd sought more time.
Reliance Jio, which was the least affected by the Supreme Court order, paid up its Rs182-crore AGR dues to DoT by the deadline.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde will likely hear next week the matter along with other modification pleas filed by telcos, seeking more time to pay off the dues and easier payment terms.
Meanwhile, Oil India on Wednesday filed a modification plea before the top court against its October verdict. “Oil India has taken up this matter with the department of telecommunications and the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, along with other affected central public sector enterprises, and explained the non-applicability of interpretation of AGR to non-telecom companies," the company had said.
DMRC had moved court seeking clarification stating that DoT’s “unjust demand" would lead to “evaporation of financial structure of DMRC and would lead to operations coming to a standstill to the great detriment of the commuting public of NCR region".
DoT seeking Rs 3 lakh cr from GAIL, other non-telecom PSUs result of communication gap: Pradhan
The telecom department's demand of ACR dues from non-telecom PSUs increased many times more than their net worth and the centre asked them to go to the Supreme Court against such claims.
The Department of Telecommunications seeking nearly Rs3 lakh crore in dues from non-telecom PSUs, such as GAIL, Oil India Ltd and PowerGrid, was a result of "communication gap" as these firms do not owe any such amount, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Thursday.
Following the 24 October Supreme Court ruling that non-telecom revenues of telecom firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea should be included for considering payments of government dues, the telecom department sought Rs1,72,000 crore from gas utility GAIL India Ltd, Rs 48,000 crore from OIL, Rs 40,000 crore from PowerGrid and raised similar demands from RailTel and other public sector undertakings (PSUs).
"We are in discussion with the telecom ministry. We had given them our reply (on the demand raised)," Pradhan told reporters. "Possibly because of communication gap, the Government of India's one department has raised such demand on PSUs under another government department."
He said parallel to discussions with the DoT, the Supreme Court has been approached on the issue.