Centre moves SC to allow telcos to pay AGR dues in annual installments

Supreme Court (File Photo)

The Central government on Monday approached the Supreme Court seeking approval for a formula allowing telecom service providers to make annual installments of unpaid or remaining AGR dues in next 20 years or more.

The fresh plea stated that telecom service providers who were liable to make payments have started making payments and the part payment is made arising out of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.

The petition said that the Centre is dealing with the telecom service providers and it has found that telcos who are required to make the payments are catering to crores of consumers throughout the country.

“The Centre is conscious of the fact that any immediate adverse impact on the functioning of telecom service providers would not only have an adverse impact on the overall economy of the nation but would also seriously harm the interest of the consumers across the country,” added the petition.

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The petition said that the Central government has examined the issues in great detail and has given serious consideration to the market economy of this sector.

The plea said if the telecom companies face proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, it will have adverse impacts on the competition and service in the telecom sector.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre on Monday, also mentioned before the Supreme Court the AGR matter saying that Mander Deshpande, Director (LFP-I) Department of Telecommunication (DOT), has tendered an unconditional apology in the contempt case.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Justice MR Shah said that the matter will be listed before the same Bench which passed the orders in the matter.

Mehta also informed the government has moved a fresh application, approval of formula for telecoms, before the top court in the AGR case and Deshpande has filed an affidavit tendering unconditional apology.

“These matters were mentioned today. List these matters before the same Bench which decided the main matter on October 24, 2019, as soon as the Bench is available. As per rules, it has to be heard by the same Bench. An affidavit, if any, is permitted to be filed. Let other IAs be also filed,” the Bench said in its order.

In February, a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had initiated contempt proceedings against Deshpande who had ‘passed an order’ stating no coercive action should be taken against the telecom companies for not sticking to the apex court’s stipulated January 23 payment deadline.

On February 14, the Supreme Court had directed telecom companies to pay the AGR-related liabilities to the government by March 17. Thereafter, the telecom companies partly or fully paid their self-assessed AGR dues to the Central government.

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