The companies said that they will comply with the court's order and pay but since the court has agreed to hear their petition regarding staggered payment, they would like to wait for it before they make the payment.
With the deadline for paying the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues ending Thursday, telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea intimated the department of telecommunications (DoT) that they will not be paying their dues totalling Rs 88,625 crore, for now. They said they would wait for the outcome of their modification petition listed for hearing before the Supreme Court next week.
The companies said that they will comply with the court’s order and pay but since the court has agreed to hear their petition regarding staggered payment, they would like to wait for it before they make the payment.
However, Reliance Jio, which started commercial operations only from September 2016 and therefore had a much smaller amount as dues, paid Rs 195 crore, which covers the period till January 31, 2020.
Meanwhile, DoT directed its departments not to take any coercive action, until further orders, against telecom operators if they fail to clear their AGR dues as per the Supreme Court order.
“The director of licensing finance policy wing has issued direction that concerned departments should not take any coercive action against the licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order, until further orders,” officials said.
The direction has been issued following approval of the member finance, who heads all DoT departments that deal in matters related to revenue.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Tata Teleservices had on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to approach the DoT for scheduling the payment and other reliefs – more time and easier terms and conditions — and the court had agreed to hear their petition sometime next week.
The basic prayer of these telcos is that the apex court should allow them to approach the DoT where they can negotiate the terms and conditions of payment.
As is known, the SC in its order dated October 24, 2019, had upheld the government’s definition of AGR which includes all revenues of a licence holder including those from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend and interest income.
Since the order to pay the amount came from the SC, the government has been unwilling to provide any relief to the operators unless directed by the court.
Of the overall Rs 1.47 lakh crore which the telecom industry needs to pay, the licence fee dues stand at Rs 92,642 crore while spectrum usage charge is at Rs 55,054 crore.