The Centre moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking approval of its formula to allow telecom companies to pay their AGR dues in annual instalments for over 20 years to avoid impact on the economy. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The Supreme Court came down heavily on the telecom companies while hearing the crucial adjusted gross revenue case on Wednesday. During the hearing, Justice Arun Mishra made scathing remarks over the attitude of telcos. The top court was hearing the Department of Telecom's plea that sought a 20-year timeframe for the companies to pay the AGR dues. The apex court ruled out any reassessment saying that the AGR order is very clear. At this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for DoT said that only window of payment was sought and not reopening the last year's order. Justice Mishra said that the contempt of court has already been made. "Nothing further can happen. If you want we can call every managing director of the companies and send them to the jail from here only," Justice Mishra said.
'Full attempt being made to spread false news...everyday media is publishing false news against Supreme Court judgment...will also issue contempt against newspapers,' the apex court said while hearing the DoT plea. "Reassessment by Justice Patnaik in 2011 settled most of propositions," the top court said. "Dues to be paid with interest and penalty as ordered. Will consider the government's rescue plan on next hearing," the court said. Justice Mishra also said that, "I'm on fag end of my career, but never so pained about the efficiency of system." The Supreme Court will now next hear the AGR case after two weeks. The apex court will consider the plea filed by the Solicitor General seeking reasonable time.
The Centre moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking approval of its formula to allow telecom companies to pay their AGR dues in annual instalments for over 20 years to avoid impact on the economy. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah had directed that the Centre's application be listed before the same bench which had given the October 24, 2019 verdict for payment of AGR dues, amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore, owed by telecom companies.
Vodafone Idea's 22 licences are estimated to expire by 2033, Airtel's 8 licences are due to expire in 2021, six each in 2024 and 2034 and another two by 2035. Under the formula suggested by the government, the telecom companies impacted by the verdict of the apex court of October 24, 2019 will be allowed to pay the DoT-assessed dues in annual instalments over 20 years (or less if they so opt), "duly protecting the next present value of the said dues using a discount rate of eight per cent (based on one-year marginal cost of lending rate of SBI which is currently 7.75 per cent)".
As per the formula, "interest on the unpaid amount, penalty, and interest on penalty in relation to the past dues as on the date of the judgement of the Supreme Court will not be levied beyond the date of the said judgement, and the net present value will be protected using the discount rate". It states that the telecom firms would continue to be liable for interest, penalty, and interest on penalty for unpaid dues of licence fee and spectrum usage charge which arises prospectively after the October 24, 2019, date of judgement of the apex court.
(With agency inputs)