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AGR Case: SC Initiates Contempt Action Against Telcos For Non-Payment Of Dues

The Supreme Court today rejected a plea by telecom operators seeking more time to settle AGR dues and began contempt proceedings against the companies. The Supreme Court’s three-judge panel, headed by Arun Mishra, today said that operators must deposit the dues by March 17.

The pleas filed by Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices sought more time for payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related dues.

The Supreme Court was hearing fresh pleas of telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, that sought a new schedule of payment of statutory dues to the tune of 1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications.

Vodafone Idea’s ability to continue as a going concern is essentially dependent on a positive outcome of its modification application in the Supreme Court on the AGR matter and any relief from the Telecom Department on payments, the telecom operator warned on Thursday.

Indian markets reversed early gains and shares of Vodafone Idea fell sharply in early noon trade today. The Sensex was down about 150 points, giving up gains of about 200 points.

Earlier on January 16, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed review petitions of telecom firms seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs. 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by January 23, saying it did not find any “justifiable reason” to entertain 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.

It had upheld the AGR definition formulated by the DoT and termed as “frivolous” the nature of objections raised by the telecom service providers.―Livemint

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