AGR Case: After Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Approaches Supreme Court To Seek Modification Of Dues

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Vodafone Idea Ltd. has approached the Supreme Court seeking a modification in its verdict last year that allowed telecom operators time to repay pending dues based on the new definition of adjusted gross revenue, a day after peer Bharti Airtel Ltd. approached the apex court seeking a similar change in its dues.

Arithmetical errors in the Department of Telecommunication’s assessment of the AGR dues amount to around Rs 5,932 crore of the principal amount, Vodafone Idea told court in its application filed on Jan. 7, adding it will have an impact of four times this amount after taking into account the interest, penalty, and interest on penalty.

The errors in the department’s submission of dues in its application in March 2020, the company said, was held final by the top court. Vodafone Idea has sought the court’s direction to allow the department to consider the company’s submission and carry out the necessary corrections.

According to the company:

  • The department didn’t account/adjust for payments already made by the company while issuing the demand for dues.
  • Some instances of double-counting of revenue occurred while calculating the AGR demand.
  • The department didn’t grant certain deductions related to call and roaming charges.

The company has pointed out that in its application of March 2020, the Department of Telecommunications itself had noted that the dues being submitted to the court were based on preliminary assessment and were subject to further evaluation.

In October 2019, the Supreme Court had ruled that non-core revenue must be included while calculating statutory levies, ending a 14-year-old legal battle between mobile operators and the government on the definition of AGR. That had increased the liabilities of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to more than Rs 90,000 crore.

Soon after, the companies approached court seeking more time for payment of dues. In September last year, the apex court had allowed for the payment of dues over a period of 10 years.

When the Supreme Court delivered its judgment, the process of reconciliation of demands was in process, Senior Advocate Tarun Gulati said when asked for a comment on the application by the two companies.

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