DoT withdraws 96% of Rs 4 lakh crore AGR dues demand from GAIL, Oil India, and other PSUs

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The DoT, on thursday, filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court explaining the rationale behind the demand of AGR dues from PSUs.

A week after the Supreme Court asked the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to reconsider its demand of pending adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues from non-telecom PSU companies, the central government today informed the court that 96% of such dues have been withdrawn.

A week after the Supreme Court asked the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to reconsider its demand of pending adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues from non-telecom PSU companies, the central government today informed the court that 96% of such dues have been withdrawn. The move comes as a massive relief for non-telecom public sector companies such as GAIL India, Oil India, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals, and Powergrid Corporation of India. Following the 2019 order of the Supreme Court, the DoT had asked PSU for spectrum dues totaling to nearly Rs 4 lakh crore.

The DoT, on Thursday, filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court explaining the rationale behind the demand of AGR dues from PSUs. On the other hand, private telecom operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea filed affidavits before the court on their AGR payments which amount to Rs 1.47 lakh crore. The telecom department has sought time to go through their replies while the Supreme Court has asked the telcos to file their financial statements before the bench.

Struggling to stay afloat, Vodafone Idea, the joint venture between UK based Vodafone and India’s Aditya Birla Group said that it has paid Rs 7,000 crore in AGR dues already but will struggle to furnish any bank guarantees for the remaining dues, news agency PTI reported. Vodafone Idea’s management has time and again reiterated their weak financial position in the face of AGR dues. The bench observed that during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, telecom is the sector which is making money and they should deposit some money as the government needs to deal with the situation.

In its hearing last week, the apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had asked the DoT to reconsider its demand while also terming the AGR due demand as “wholly and totally impermissible”. Private telecom operators have also been asked by the court to file affidavits explaining the time needed by them to clear the remaining dues. Following the apex court’s October 2019 verdict, DoT had sought Rs 4 lakh crore in past dues from PSU firms. The Supreme Court has maintained that its ruling was only for non-psu firms.

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