Contempt Notices to Telecos for Non-Payment of AGR Dues - SC

14-02-2020

The Supreme Court issued contempt notices to the telecom companies which have not yet paid the dues arising out of the October 2019 judgment. The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah has asked Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata Teleservices, to clear their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to department of telecommunications (DoT) to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crores before March 17, the next date of hearing.

Judgement –

  • Pay DoT by March 17
  • The managing director and top officials of the companies and the DoT are to be present in court on the same day when the case would be heard again
  • Contempt notice against the officer of Department of Telecommunications, who has allegedly issued notification freezing the recovery of AGR dues.

The government had refused to take coercive action against mobile service providers that failed to meet the court-directed deadline to pay dues after Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel sought more time.

Observations –

  • The conduct of the telecom companies as well as the DoT for ignoring its 24 October verdict made Justice Mishra full with anguish that had directed the firm to pay DoT by 23 January over ₹1 trillion in dues for under reporting their revenues.

The Court was hearing the applications filed by the telecom companies seeking a new schedule of payment of statutory dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh cr. There was a lot of displeasure by Justice Mishra at the applications seeking more time for payment. The telecom companies want to negotiate a fresh payment schedule with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which has issued demand notices to them.

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