The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has decided to withdraw 96 per cent of the Rs 4 lakh crore demand aised against non-telecom Public Sector Undertakings like GAIL based on the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) given by the Supreme Court in its October 2019 judgment.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah that "We have taken a decision since they are not in the business of providing tele services to general public, we are withdrawing the dues from these PSU's. 96% demand now stands withdrawn".
The DoT has filed an affidavit explaining the reason for raising the demand of AGR related dues against the PSUs, SG added.
On the last hearing, the SC had expressed displeasure at the Centre raising demands at the PSUs on ton the basis of the October 2019 verdict in the case pertaining to AGR dues of telecom companies.
"Our judgement could not have the basis for demands on PSUs", the bench had observed then.
"This is an outright misuse of our verdict. You are making a demand of over 4 lac crores ! This is wholly and totally impermissible!", Justice Mishra had observed on the demands on PSUs.
"They don't provide services like other telcos for commercial exploitation. Imposing AGR dues on PSUs may not be in public interest", he had added.
"We would request you to withdraw this (demand on PSUs) otherwise we will take strict action against them(DoT officers)", Justice Mishra had asked.
On Thursday the DoT sought time from the bench, which is hearing the matter through video-conferencing, to respond to the affidavits filed by telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd, on payment of AGR dues by them.
The apex court had on October 24 last year ruled that the statutory dues need to be calculated by including non-telecom revenues in AGR of telcos.