Department of Telecommunications asks telecom companies to pay AGR dues by midnight

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Published: February 14, 2020 6:28:55 PM

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has ordered Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies to clear the dues by Friday midnight, news agency PTI reported.

The DoT order comes after the Supreme Court chided telecom operators and DoT for failing to clear dues and refusing to obey the January 17 order of the apex court.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has ordered Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies to clear the dues by Friday midnight, news agency PTI reported. The DoT order comes after the Supreme Court chided telecom operators and DoT for failing to clear dues and refusing to obey the January 17 order of the apex court.

Earlier today, the DoT, faced the ire of the Supreme Court for putting on hold recovery of dues from telecom companies, started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to firms. With the order telecom companies have now been asked to clear dues by 11.59 pm Friday which puts them under immense pressure. Vodafone Group Plc Chief Executive, Nick Read had in November said that the company’s India unit could be headed for liquidation if there is no relief on the demand to pay AGR dues. Vodafone Idea owes over Rs 53,000 crore to the telecom department, while Bharti Airtel owes around Rs 35,000 crore.

The Supreme Court today scolded the telecom operators saying that they were in contempt of its order to pay the dues amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore. The court has directed Managing Directors and CMDs of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and others to be present in the court on its next hearing to explain why contempt proceedings should not be launched against them for not following the Supreme Court order. The Supreme Court bench headed Justice Arun Misha said, “We don’t know who is creating this nonsense. Is there no law left in the country? It is better not to live in this country and rather leave the country.”

Struggling telecom operators have been trying to seek more time for payment of dues, saying that they will be unable to pay the amount as the sector is witnessing tough competition.Telecom operators are required to pay licence fee and spectrum charges in the form of ‘revenue share’ to the Central government. The revenue amount used to calculate this revenue share is termed as the AGR. DoT had claimed that the calculations should incorporate all revenues earned by a telecos – including income from non-telecom sources such as deposit interests and asset sale. 

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