Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition of telecom majors Airtel and Vodafone-Idea for re-computation of dues, claiming errors in Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) calculation. Airtel owes due of Rs 8,000 crore and Vodafone-Idea owe Rs 58,000 crore to Department of Telecom. In the petition, Airtel claimed only Rs 18,000 crore and Vodafone-Idea claimed Rs 25,000 seeking re-computation.
“All the miscellaneous applications are dismissed,” a bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said while pronouncing the order. Shares of cash-strapped Vodafone Idea plunged as much as 10% to Rs 8.10 per share post the verdict that came as a setback for the telcos, whereas that of Bharti Airtel was trading over 1% higher at ?552 on the BSE. Under invoicing of Telecom companies were caught by CAG in 2011 during their audit on 2G Scam. As per the licensing agreement on every call certain portion (Adjusted Gross Revenue - AGR) of the bill, the companies have to share with Government. The telecom companies went up to Supreme Court against CAG auditing of their revenue and lost the case.
After the 2016 CAG report finding huge under invoicing and DoT issued notice to all companies to pay a total of Rs 1.45 lakh crores. Supreme Court Bench headed Justice Arun Mishra also ratified the Government’s claim in October 2019 and ordered companies to start paying immediately, citing that this money was collected telecos from public already per call.
Later Government informed Supreme Court that 20 year installment can be given to the companies. In September 2020, Justice Mishra’s Bench allowed 10 years installment starting from March 2021. The bench had asked the Managing Directors (MDs) or Chief Executive Officer (CEOs) of the telcos concerned to furnish undertaking or personal guarantee for payment of dues.
After getting 10 year installment, biggest defaulters Vodafone-Idea and Airtel approached Supreme Court seeking re-computation of their dues, claiming errors in DoT’s calculations.
The apex court on Friday had held that demand raised by the DoT in respect of AGR dues will be final and said there shall be no dispute raised by the telcos and that there shall not be any re-assessment.