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AGR Case: SC dismisses Modification Plea of Telecoms; Initiates contempt action against telcos & DoT officers

AGR Case: SC dismisses Modification Plea of Telecoms; Initiates contempt action against telcos & DoT officers
Highlights

The Supreme Court of India on Friday dismissed the review petitions filed by the telecom companies, like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, who were...

The Supreme Court of India on Friday dismissed the review petitions filed by the telecom companies, like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, who were seeking more time to settle adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra has directed the telecom operators to deposit the dues by March 17. The next date of hearing is on March 17.

The apex court also began contempt proceedings against the telecom companies as well as the DoT officers and dismissed the review petitions as yet not a penny has been deposited by the companies.

The bench said, "These companies haven't paid anything since 20 years by way of AGR dues". It added, " "A review was dismissed and there is no stay. These companies better pay sizeable amounts to show their bona fides by the end of the day."

Slamming the telecom department (DoT) for staying coercive action against the telecom companies for recovery proceeding, the bench directed DoT to withdraw its executive order overriding the court order to recover the dues. The bench said, "There is no respect for the court." The department on January 23, 2020, had asked its circle officers not to take any action against telcos who did not pay their AGR dues.

The highest court of the country also dismissed pleas of relief from RailTel, PowerGrid, Oil India who had petitioned for relief from AGR dues.

About the Petition

The Supreme Court was hearing a fresh please by telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, who sought a new schedule of payment of the AGR dues to the tune of Rs1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications.

Earlier on January 16, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed the review petition of telecom firms seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by January 23, 2020, saying it did not find any "justifiable reason" to entertain them.

The top court had on October 24, 2019, ruled that the statutory dues need to be calculated by including non-telecom revenues in AGR of telcos.

Vodafone Idea, earlier on Thursday, said that its ability to continue will depend on a positive outcome of its modification application in the Supreme Court on the AGR matter and any relief from the Telecom Department on payments.

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