The Supreme Court on Thursday directed telecom companies to submit their financial documents while considering a plea by the Department of Telecommunications to allow them to settle the AGR-related dues in a staggered fashion over 20 years.
The bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, also allowed time to the DoT to consider the proposals of telecos. The case will be next taken during the third week of July.
During the hearing, the bench asked about the security and guarantees which can be sought from telecom companies to ensure payment of the dues.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone Idea, said that it has already paid Rs 7,000 crore to the DoT. Over Rs 10,000 crore of bank guarantees are lying with the DOT, which should be considered as security, he added. He stressed that payment by way of installments over 20 years is the only method to clear the AGR dues.
"The company has to earn and pay, and that is the only way", he said.
The bench responded by saying that Vodafone was a "large foreign player" and that there has to be some down payment.
"You must deposit some amount. The government needs this money for the public, especially during the pandemic", Justice M R Shah told Rohatgi.
Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for Tata Teleservices, submitted that his client has paid Rs 37000 crores. He added that the pandemic has severely hit the income of the company.
Senior Advocate Dr AM Singhvi , appearing for Bharti Airtel, submitted that his client has already paid 18,000 crores out of over 21000 crores. He added that bank Guarantees of Rs 10,800 crore is pending with the DOT.
The issue arises out of the October 2019 judgment of the SC interpreting 'Adjusted Gross Revenue'(AGR) to include revenue from non-telecom sources as well, which resulted in telecos facing a demand of over Rs 1.42 lakh crores on account of use of telecom licenses.
In March, the DoT filed an application seeking to permit the telecom companies to settle the dues in a staggered fashion over 20 years.
On Thursday, the Centre told the SC that it has decided to withdraw the demands raised on non-telecom PSUs on the basis of AGR verdict.
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