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Telcos plead for more time to pay AGR dues

The apex court had dismissed the review petitions filed by the telecom operators

By Our Special Correspondent in Mumbai

  • Published 21.01.20, 1:52 AM
  • Updated 21.01.20, 1:52 AM
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court (iStock)

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on Monday filed a modification application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues.

Last week, the apex court had dismissed the review petitions filed by the telecom operators with regard to its earlier order on the payment of the adjusted gross revenues (AGR) dues.

While the Supreme Court has set a deadline of January 23 for the payment to be made to the government, the poor financial health of the telcos marked by losses and elevated debt levels, has led them to approach the top court again for relief.

It is learnt that Tata Teleservices has also filed a modification application seeking more time for the payment. This, however, could not be confirmed as spokespersons of the firms were not available for comment. The matter may be heard on Tuesday.

Bharti Airtel had posted a record loss of Rs 23,045 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, while rival Vodafone Idea had recorded a consolidated loss of Rs 50,921.9 crore for the same period.

Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla had earlier said that the company may have to shut down its India operations if there was no relief even as he had indicated that the promoters had no intentions of raising any fresh capital to meet the dues.

Vodafone Idea owes more than Rs 50,000 crore to the Centre, while Bharti Airtel has to pay close to Rs 36,000 crore. Observers say the latter is in a relatively better position as it has raised $3 billion through QIP and foreign currency convertible bonds recently. The telcos have also said that they intend to file a curative petition in the Supreme Court.

“The apex court has dismissed the review petition filed by telcos regarding the AGR case. The immediate option with telecom operators will be to file a curative petition, wherein a fresh bench of judges would revisit the entire judgment. If this too results in an unchanged stance, telcos can plead before the court to defer payments,’’ analysts at SBI Cap Securities said in a report.

OIL gets a notice

New Delhi: The telecom department has slapped a Rs 48,000-crore demand notice on Oil India in past statutory dues, an order which the country’s second-biggest state oil producer plans to challenge in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.

Following a Supreme Court ruling that non-telecom revenues should be included for considering payments of government dues, the DoT has asked Oil India to pay Rs 48,000 crore in principal dues together with interest and penalty for using optic fibre network for internal communication.

The dues sought are double the net worth of Oil India.

Additional reporting by PTI