SC unlikely to pronounce judgement on AGR case today

The Supreme Court (SC) is unlikely to pronounce its judgement on modification appeals by telcos as the bench comprising of Justice N Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose stands cancelled.

“Take notice that due to non availability of …Justice, Aniruddha Bose on Thursday, the 22nd July, 2021, sitting of court number 6 comprising of …Justice Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose stands cancelled and matters listed before this bench on 22. 07.2021 Thursday will not be taken up for hearing,” stated the top court in a notification.

The adjusted gross revenue (AGR) verdict expected is on the plea by Vodafone Idea (Vi), Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) that the telecom department had computational errors in its AGR calculation.

The top court’s decision will be crucial for Vi, which has reiterated that reduction in statutory dues was one of factors necessary for its viability.

Vi had self-assessed its dues at Rs21,533 crore, Airtel at Rs 13,003 crore and TTSL at Rs2,197 crore and all three in their petitions had said that these were far less than what Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had asked them for.

The SC had in previous AGR hearings rejected telcos’ appeal.

At a hearing in the Supreme Court last Monday, Vi along with Airtel and TTSL , highlighted errors made by the DoT while calculating AGR dues, which had led to inflated demands. The telcos had filed separate pleas in January, seeking a modification of the September 20, 2020, top court order which had declared DoT’s AGR calculations as final.

The almost two decade AGR battle between the DoT and telcos seemed to end when in October 2019, SC widened the scope of AGR to include non-telecom items. A year later, the top court held that DoT’s AGR calculations were final, scrapping self-assessments done by the telcos.

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The ruling left Vi facing dues of Rs58,400 crore, Airtel, Rs43,980 crore, and Tata Teleservices, Rs 16798 crore, as calculated by the government. Of these, Vi has paid Rs7854 crore, Airtel, Rs18,003 crore and Tata Tele, Rs4,197 crore. The telcos need to pay their balance dues in 10 instalments through March 31, 2031.

However, a new battlefront opened up in January with the modification appeals.


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