Pay outstanding dues by 11.59 pm tonight: Centre orders telecom firms after SC rap

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The Department of Telecom (DoT) on Friday ordered telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, to clear their outstanding dues by 11.59 pm tonight, news agency PTI reported.

The order came hours after the Supreme Court took a strong note of non-compliance with its October order, and threatened a government official with contempt proceedings.

In January, the telecom department had stated that no coercive action will be taken against telecom companies defaulting on statutory dues payment.

The department withdrew this order today after the apex court summoned the managing directors of the firms and directed them to pay an amount of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the DoT by the next hearing, which is on March 17.

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Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel in a letter offered to pay Rs 10,000 crore by February 20 and the rest before the next date of hearing in the top court. The telecom companies have to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) worth Rs 92,000 crore to the government.

In October last year, the top court had ended a 14-year-long legal battle to rule in favour of the government which had insisted that companies could not exclude non-telecom revenue to calculate the fee to be paid to the exchequer.

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