Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
After Supreme Court rap and the government's stringent deadline, Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has paid Rs 10,000 crore to the telecom department towards statutory dues. The company said it will make payment of the balance amount after self-assessment exercise. "The...total amount of Rs 10,000 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel, Bharti Hexacom, and Telenor. "We are in the process of completing the self assessment exercise expeditiously and will duly make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court," Bharti Airtel said.
The company said it will also submit supporting details at the time of making balance payment. The telecom department on February 14 began issuing orders asking firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear past dues immediately. The DoT, which faced the ire of the Supreme Court for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies, had started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to the firms.
Airtel had previously responded to DoT order by offering to pay Rs 10,000 crore by February 20 and the remaining before March 17. Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government.
Coming down heavily over the non-payment of the AGR dues, the Supreme Court on February 14 had issued showcause notices of contempt to top telecom bosses last week. The top court had also summoned the CMDs and MDs of major telecom players including Vodafone-Idea and Airtel. Setting up the deadline, the top court ordered the telcos to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore AGR dues by March 17. Giving the ultimatum, the apex court said, Pay up by the next date of hearing (March 17). This is the last opportunity.” The top court was also displeased with the top officer at the Department of Telecom. The apex court also issued contempt notice against the DoT officer. The top court said that “his order must be withdrawn by the evening or he should be ready to go to jail.”
While adjourning matter for March, the top court observed that too much has ‘happened in this country, won't let it happen again.’ A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah was hearing a batch of fresh petitions filed by telecom companies seeking more time for payment of AGR dues. Expressing anguish over the non-action by the telecom players, the top court asked: “We don't know who is creating this nonsense, is there no law left in country.”