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Claims worth Rs 45,286 crore against Bharti Airtel, subsidiaries under litigation

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said claims worth Rs 45,286.76 crore against the company and its subsidiaries are under litigation in various courts across the country. The pending litigations include a demand of Rs 15,178 crore, the highest among all, for one-time spectrum charges that was raised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in January 2013.

Initially a demand notice of Rs 5,201.2 crore was raised by the DoT, which was revised to Rs 8,414 crore in 2018. “The company challenged the demand notice of Rs 5,201.2 cr dated January 8, 2013 (revised to Rs 8,414 cr in 2018), issued by Department of Telecommunications towards one-time spectrum charge (OTSC). The Bombay High Court vide order dated January 28, 2013 and October 4, 2019, granted interim protection to the company. Matter is pending adjudication,” Bharti Airtel said in a regulatory filing.

The second biggest claim in the list of litigation includes a claim of Rs 4,439 crore by a company’s subscriber, which has been pending before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi. “The complainant sought damages and demanded the company pay a penalty. The complaint is frivolous and in view of the precedent laid by Supreme Court in favour of the company in the call drop case, the complaint is legally not tenable,” Airtel said.

Sharing details of other claims under litigation, the company said that it has also challenged DoT’s separate demand notice of Rs 1,050 crore in a case of alleged violation of quality of service rules due to congestion at the point of interconnection (POI). The penalty was imposed by DoT based on the recommendation of the telecom regulator Trai on a complaint made by Reliance Jio.

“The company has provided POIs to the other TSPs strictly in compliance with TRAI QoS regulation, Interconnect Agreements between the parties and the license conditions. The TDSAT has directed DoT not to encash the bank guarantee till the matter is heard,” Airtel said. PTI

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