AGR Row: DoT affidavit didn’t have full due amount

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Published: March 19, 2020 5:45:30 AM

Since the same methodology applies in paying SUC also, it can be implied that whatever the DoT calculated and sent as demand notices to the telcos from time to time is being seen by the SC as final.

The amount owed as spectrum usage charge (SUC) and the interest, penalty, and interest on penalty was not mentioned in it.The amount owed as spectrum usage charge (SUC) and the interest, penalty, and interest on penalty was not mentioned in it.

While lashing out at the department of telecommunications (DoT) and the operators on the self-assessment exercise of AGR dues, the Supreme Court bench observed: “Bills were raised. CAG audit has been done, then who permitted this? How can there be self-assessment or re-assessment of dues? If re-assessment is permitted, it is a fraud on this court.”

Implicit in this observation is that court has relied on the dues computed by the DoT. However, if one goes by the October 24, 2019 order, which went in favour of the DoT and companies were asked to pay, it did not mention the amount which was due against respective companies. The amount was in DoT’s affidavit – Rs 92,000 crore to be paid by 15 operators as on July 2019 – which included the licence fee dues, interest, penalty and interest on penalty as per its computation methodology which was upheld by the court. Of the Rs 92,000 crore, Bharti Airtel’s due amount was at Rs 21,682 crore while that of Vodafone Idea Rs 28,308 crore.

The amount owed as spectrum usage charge (SUC) and the interest, penalty, and interest on penalty was not mentioned in it. The SUC figures were later mentioned by the DoT in response to a Parliament question and that’s how it came into public domain.

Since the same methodology applies in paying SUC also, it can be implied that whatever the DoT calculated and sent as demand notices to the telcos from time to time is being seen by the SC as final.

However, the DoT never sent a formal demand notice with the amounts on the licence fee front and SUC to any of the operators. It merely asked them to pay on self-assessment basis. It will now have to withdraw these letters.

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