Vodafone Idea May Move Telecom Tribunal To Recover Over Rs 7,000cr From DoT

DoT expects the new operator to move the tribunal and is willing to defend its demand.

The newly merged entity Vodafone Idea is planning to move the telecom tribunal TDSAT to recover about Rs 7,249 crore that it paid to the Department of Telecom (DoT) for merging their mobile business.

In July, Vodafone and Idea had paid the sum ‘under protest’ and had kept the option open of challenging the dues sought in the court later.

“It is the most logical step to go to courts and recover the money later. Auditors should not question that when other telcos have gone to courts on similar dues, why the merged company did not protect its capital,” a source told the paper.

The country’s biggest telecom operator requires capital to strengthen its balance sheet to take on other market leaders including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.

DoT gave a conditional nod for merger of these companies on July 9. Following which, it demanded one-time spectrum charges (OTSC) and other spectrum-related dues from Idea Cellular and Vodafone India as a precondition for approving the merger.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular then paid Rs 3,926.34 crore in cash and a bank guarantee worth Rs 3,322.44 crore, respectively.

If the case is not settled at the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), it may go to the Supreme Court, experts told the paper. DoT expects the new operator to move the tribunal and is willing to defend its demand.

“We expect them to move TDSAT. It’s a question of when, not if. Before the merger, they pay the guarantees and the moment it gets sealed, they head for the courts,” a senior DoT official told the paper, adding that the regulator will exhaust all avenues to defend its demand. – Money Control

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