Payment of AGR dues by private telecom companies – Supreme Court says their Managing Directors may be sent to jail.
We have already updated on this website, how the private telecom companies had been paying a lesser licence fee amount to the government all these years, by giving a wrong definition to the AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue). We have also reported how on 24-10-2019, the Supreme Court had directed the private telecom companies to pay the entire amount due on account of AGR. The Supreme Court had also pulled up the DoT, for being lenient to the private telecom companies, in collecting the outstanding AGR dues. Despite all these, after the last hearing, the DoT permitted the private telecom companies to make a “self-assessment” of the AGR dues to be paid by them. The DoT also filed a petition in the Court, stating that the private telecom companies should be permitted to pay their AGR dues over a period of 20 years and also they should be exempted from payment of penalties and interest. Under these circumstances, the case came up for hearing again on last Wednesday (18-03-2020). On that day, the Supreme Court once again lashed out at the DoT, for seeking relief for telecom companies in paying the AGR dues. The Court refused to take up the Centre’s plea for allowing telecom companies to pay the AGR dues in 20 years, saying the application would be taken up only after two Weeks. The Court also severely criticised the DoT, for allowing the private telecom companies to make a self assessment of their AGR dues. If required, the managing directors of the telecom companies will be summoned and may even be sent to jail, the court observed. Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices together have to pay Rs.1.02 lakh crore as AGR dues to the government, as per the Supreme Court order dated 24-10-2019.

[BSNLEU website Date : 21 – Mar – 2020]