Finding fault with the Delhi High Cou-rt’s judgment that allowed CAG to audit the accounts of private telecom operators, industry bodies on Tuesday denied having any revenue sharing arra-ngement with the government. Instead, they told the apex court that telecom operators pay 6% of their Annual Gross Revenue (excluding spectrum charges) towards licence fee annually besides one-time entry fee and the same can?t be equated with revenue sharing. Dual-technology industry body Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers ( ASUPI) and Cellular Operators Association of India told a bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan that there are enough checks for verification of accounts in the licence and Trai regulations.
Challenging the HC ruling that allowed the government’s auditor to audit the accounts of private telecom operators, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the telecom bodies, argued that they would not mind putting their companies through another audit but the ?only point will be legality issue.? He said CAG can audit whether rules on assessments have been followed but not the money coming into the government treasury. ?If the state wants to use the CAG office on private basis there is no objection. But CAG doesn’t have power to audit the accounts of private telecom firms. It has become fashionable to seek CAG audit these days… If allowed to audit, then why privatisation. It will become a government company,? Salve argued.
Opposing any such audit, the AUSPI said in its petition it is unconstitutional as Section 16 of the CAG Act makes it clear the government auditor can only audit the receipts which are payable into the Consolidated Fund of India. The HC failed to appreciate that neither Section 16 of the CAG Act nor Articles 149 and 266 of the Constitution deal with private companies at all, it said.
The HC had held in January that the CAG can audit revenue-sharing details of these firms to check under-reporting of revenue for calculating licence fee.