Supreme Court directed the telecom companies to explain why contempt action should not be taken against them for non-compliance of its order (Photo Credit: PTI)
Telcom operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have been asked to clear their dues before Friday midnight by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). According to an order, the DoT has issued circle or zone-wise demand notices to the firms asking them to clear their dues by 11.59 pm on Friday.
The development has come after the Supreme Court slammed the DoT for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies. The top court directed the telecom companies to explain why contempt action should not be taken against them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the telecom department.
Taking strong note of the non-compliance of its order, the top court expressed displeasure over an order passed by the Department of Telecom's desk officer, staying the effect of its verdict in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter.
“We don't know who is creating this nonsense, is there no law left in country,” the top court asked the DoT on non-compliance of its AGR order by telcos.
Of the three private players operating in the Indian telecom market, Vodafone Idea is considered to be in the most vulnerable position. It is staring at dues worth Rs 53,000 crore that includes up to Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee, and the company had earlier warned of shutdown if no relief was given.
Bharti Airtel's liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues. Airtel had already said that the previously-mentioned material uncertainty on the group's ability to continue as a going concern "no longer exists" after the recent Rs 21,502 crore fund raising by it. Most of the remaining liability is with state-owned BSNL/MTNL and some of the shut/bankrupt telecom companies.
(With PTI inputs)