DoT believes the SC order is applicable to all licencees and, therefore, demand notices have been issued to all firms that have taken any kind of licence from it.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) is of the view that the January 23 deadline to make payments regarding adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues is not applicable to non-telecom PSUs like GAIL and PowerGrid as well as to standalone internet service providers (ISPs) since these companies were not party to the case.
The DoT, however, believes the Supreme Court order is applicable to all licencees and therefore, demand notices have been issued to all companies, which have taken any kind of licence from it.
“We have issued notices to non-telecom PSUs and ISPs based on the Supreme Court order. If these firms feel the they don’t have to pay or have some queries, they can approach us. It is between DoT and these firms but the deadline by the court is not applicable to them,” said a source in the government. The source said DoT deliberated internally regarding the applicability of the SC order on such firms and a viewpoint emerged that it won’t be legally tenable to force these companies to pay up by January 23.
Regarding the demand notices to PSUs and ISPs, another source said the SC in its October 24, 2019, order has upheld the DoT’s definition of AGR and all the licensees have to pay accordingly. “We have asked them to pay by January 23 but if they don’t pay, it won’t amount to contempt of court as they were not party to the case,” the source told FE.
The source further said the PSUs and ISPs can file a fresh petition in the SC regarding the demand notices if talks with DoT did not satisfy them. The non-telecom PSUs together need to pay over Rs 2 lakh crore as AGR dues as a result of the October 24 Supreme Court order. If the amount owed by ISPs is also included, the figure swells to over Rs 3 lakh crore, which is twice that of Rs 1.47 lakh crore owed by telecom operators.
As is known, the PSUs which have come under the AGR net do not have telecom services as their core operations but have telecom licence of some nature or use spectrum for some part of their operations. Most of them had taken the concerned telecom licence in the name of the flagship firm instead of the subsidiary which runs telecom-related operations.
Since the SC order states that for calculating AGR entire revenues of the licensee firm needs to be taken into account, these firms have to pay their telecom licence on the basis of their entire revenues instead of only telecom-related revenues.