AGR woes: Is there no regulation left on this nation, asks SC; summons MDs of telcos, takes robust word of non-compliance of its order


The Supreme Court docket on Friday directed the managing administrators and administrators of telcos and different corporations to elucidate why contempt motion shouldn’t be taken towards them for non-compliance of its order to pay adjusted gross income (AGR) of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the Division of Telecommunications.

The apex court docket issued contempt notices to telecom giants Vodafone and Bharti Airtel over non-payment of AGR and summoned the managing administrators of the corporations for the following listening to in March, in accordance with a report in The Indian Categorical.

Taking robust word of the non-compliance of its order, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah expressed anguish over the order handed by DoT’s desk officer staying the impact of its verdict in AGR matter, in accordance with a report in The Indian Categorical.

Listening to pleas filed by Vodafone Thought, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices looking for extra time for fee of AGR associated dues, the apex court docket expressed severe displeasure as to how a desk officer can go such an order which stays the impact of the apex court docket’s judgment.

“How can a desk officer do this to the Supreme Court’s order. Is this the law of the country. Is this the way you treat the courts,” the three-member Supreme Court docket bench mentioned.

 AGR woes: Is there no law left in this country, asks SC; summons MDs of telcos, takes strong note of non-compliance of its order

Consultant picture. Reuters

Justice Arun Mishra, who was heading the bench, mentioned, “We don’t know who is creating this nonsense. Who is generating all this? Is there no law left in the country? I am literally anguished. I feel I should not work in this court and in this system. I am very anguished. I am saying this with full sense of responsibility.”

“I don’t get angry like this, but I am totally lost how to work in this system and this country,” he mentioned.

Solicitor Basic Tushar Mehta tendered an apology earlier than the bench additionally comprising Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah, and mentioned the desk officer can not do that.

“As the solicitor general of the country, have you asked him (desk officer) to withdraw this? This cannot be tolerated. We cannot function in this fashion. Let us wind up the Supreme Court if your desk officer has this audacity. News reports are being published. Who is sponsoring all this?” the bench requested.

“I never bother about myself. You don’t understand me, not even an inch. Your desk officer is staying the Supreme Court order. Is he sitting over the Supreme Court? How?,” Justice Mishra mentioned, including it was “better not to live in this country, rather leave it”.

“We have to draw contempt against this man (desk officer) and also against these companies. How are they behaving? We had dismissed the review plea and not even a single penny has been deposited yet. The desk officer is staying our order. We are concerned with the health of judiciary, of this country and of this system,” the bench mentioned.

Mehta requested the bench to defer the matter and mentioned motion shouldn’t be taken proper now and they might file a proof in regards to the desk officer.

“What kind of applications are being filed? What kind of mentioning is being made? If you want to avoid us, you do it and we will recuse,” the bench mentioned.

It noticed that the businesses have violated its order in substance and this exhibits that they’ve scant respect for the order of the Supreme Court docket.

Referring to the desk officer’s letter to the legal professional common, the apex court docket bench mentioned, “This is nothing but a device to oblige the companies. This kind of order could not have been passed by a desk officer.”

The bench directed the managing administrators and administrators of all of the telcos and firms involved to look earlier than it on subsequent date of listening to on 17 March and clarify why they haven’t deposited the cash and why coercive motion shouldn’t be taken towards them.

“Pay up by the next date of hearing. This is the last opportunity all companies have. We must do this. Corruption of all kinds must stop,” a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra mentioned.

After the SC judgment, shares of Vodafone Thought fell as a lot as 13.40 % whereas shares of Bharti Airtel was up 3.99 %.

On 16 January, the Justice Mishra-led bench had dismissed overview petitions of telcos looking for overview of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by 23 January, saying it didn’t discover any “justifiable reason” to entertain them.

The highest court docket had on 24 October final yr dominated that the statutory dues wanted to be calculated by together with non-telecom revenues in AGR of telcos.

Vodafone seeks 10 years to make fee

On 5 February, Vodafone mentioned it has sought waiver of curiosity and penalty from statutory dues demand raised by the federal government from Vodafone Thought and a time of 10 years to pay solely the principal quantity with a two-year moratorium.

The Supreme Court docket in October upheld the demand raised by the federal government from telecom operators to pay levies on the revenues earned by them.

Vodafone Thought Ltd (VIL), by which Vodafone holds 45.39 % stake, is gazing unpaid statutory dues of Rs 53,038 crore, together with Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence charge, and has already warned of shutdown if no aid is given.

Particularly, we’ve requested a direct two-year moratorium on spectrum funds, decreasing of licence charges and taxes, waving off curiosity and penalties on the AGR (adjusted gross income) case and skill to make the fee on principal over 10 years with a 2-year moratorium,” Vodafone Chief Government Officer Nick Learn mentioned throughout buyers presentation.

In January, the Supreme Court docket rejected the overview petition filed by VIL and different business individuals in relation to the AGR judgment. Each VIL and Bharti Airtel have subsequently filed modification petitions to request the court docket to order the Division of Telecommunications to find out a fee schedule in relation to AGR dues and different reliefs.

VIL is actively looking for varied types of aid from the Centre to make sure that the speed and stage of funds it makes to the federal government is sustainable and it may well meet its different commitments additionally.

“Following the AGR ruling of the Supreme Court, the situation in India is critical. The telecom industry in India has asked the government to take action urgently in order to support the continuation of three (private operators) plus one (public firm) player market,” Learn mentioned.

Vodafone in November wrote off the carrying worth of its share within the loss-making three way partnership.

Learn reiterated that there isn’t a change within the Vodafone place introduced in November and the corporate won’t inject any further capital within the Indian market.

He mentioned procedural delay within the merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel is placing Vodafone Thought underneath “incredible strain”.

Bharti Infratel and Vodafone India maintain 42 % stake every in Indus Towers. VIL holds an 11.15 % stake within the cellular tower agency which it plans to dump as soon as the merger is full.

Bharti Infratel on 24 December had prolonged the deadline for the second time for the merger with Indus Towers by two extra months to 24 February, because it didn’t obtain the mandatory authorities approval.

What’s the case about

Fifteen telecom firms owe the federal government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence charge and one other Rs 55,054 crore in excellent spectrum utilization expenses. These liabilities arose after the Supreme Court docket in October final yr held that non-core revenues need to be thought of for calculating statutory dues from Adjusted Gross Income (AGR).

Within the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities added as much as practically Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence charge and one other Rs 13,904.01 crore is the spectrum utilization cost dues (not together with the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices). Vodafone Thought — which is gazing unpaid statutory dues of Rs 53,038 crore, together with Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence charge — has already warned of shut down if no aid is given.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Thought Ltd, and Tata Teleservices have, in the meantime, collectively filed a modification software within the Supreme Court docket looking for extra time to pay the statutory dues. The plea for aid on the fee schedule got here after a three-judge Supreme Court docket bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, earlier this month, dismissed the overview petitions filed by telecom firms towards the apex court docket’s 24 October, 2019 verdict.

The telecom division has additionally estimated one other Rs 2.four lakh crore in legal responsibility for non-telecom firms resembling state-owned fuel utility GAIL India Ltd and energy transmission agency PowerGrid, which had taken licences to commerce broadband on optic fibre working alongside their pipelines and transmission strains.

The DoT has sought further license charge of Rs 1.72 lakh crore from fuel utility GAIL India Ltd, Rs 48,000 crore from OIL, round Rs 22,000 crore from Energy Grid Company (PowerGrid), and has raised related calls for from RailTel and different public sector undertakings (PSUs).

PSUs together with Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Energy Grid Company have filed a clarificatory/modificatory petition within the Supreme Court docket towards calls for raised by the telecom division.

–With inputs from businesses


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