Kolkata: The Supreme Court has termed adjusted gross revenue (AGR) recalculation pleas of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices as “misconceived” and said that the relief being sought would in effect alter the quantum of the statutory dues which had been confirmed by it in its July 2020 order.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice L N Rao had on Friday dismissed the pleas of three telecom companies seeking a correction of alleged arithmetical errors in the AGR dues computation. The court order was made public on Saturday.
“Though these applications appear to be innocuous at first blush, the end result of the relief sought by the applicants in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation, which would amount to the AGR dues, as specified in the order of this court, dated 20.07.2020, being altered,” said the bench in its order, dated July 23, a copy of which was seen by ET.
The bench added that the apex court’s order of July 7, 2020, “makes it clear that there is no scope for any recalculation/re-computation of AGR dues”.
Further, the bench said that even at the time of passing of the July 7, 2020, order, an attempt was made to seek recalculation and reassessment, which was rejected by this court outright.
Back in January, Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices had filed separate applications seeking modification of the September 2020 apex court order that declared the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) AGR calculations as final.
These pleas represented a last-ditch attempt by the telecom companies to obtain some relief to mitigate the impact of the Supreme Court judgements of October 2019 and September 2020 that directed them to pay AGR dues of over Rs 1.19 lakh crore over a 10-year period. Of this, the three carriers have paid over Rs 30,000 crore. The dismissal of these petitions leaves the companies with possibly no further legal remedy.
Friday’s top court ruling hits cash-strapped Vi the hardest, as its total AGR dues are now confirmed at Rs 58,254 crore, of which it has paid Rs 7,854 crore. With its cash balance at Rs 350 crore at March-end and operations not generating adequate cash, it will struggle to meet its payment obligations of around Rs 24,000 crore — coming up in December 2021-April 2022, say analysts. These are a mix of debt repayment, AGR and spectrum dues payments.