The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will begin issuing notices to telecom companies after the January 24 deadline for payment of AGR (adjusted gross revenue) dues, set by the Supreme Court, lapses, a senior official said.
This comes even as the apex court on Tuesday agreed to list the “modification petition” filed by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Group for “sometime next week”. The firms have sought a change to the 90-day deadline for payment of Rs 1.47 trillion worth of AGR dues, and permission to engage with the DoT on the terms and timing of payment.It is learnt that the DoT will issue notices in compliance with the apex court’s October 24, 2019, order that stated that the AGR-related dues need to be paid by January 24.
Meanwhile, leading telecom companies are holding hectic parleys as they consider skipping the deadline for payment of AGR dues.
Rajan S Mathew, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said: “I understand that most of the telcos may wait till the hearing of the new petition before they make the payment.”
Mathew said there were enough judicial precedents, where the court had not executed its order, pending further adjudication in the same court. He said that they will continue to hold talks with DoT and are hopeful that no coercive action will be taken, though there has been no official communication to that effect.
However, Bharti Airtel declined to comment on the issue, and it is not clear whether it will pay some money upfront or follow the same line as Vodafone Idea.
In the case of Jio, which was not part of the review petitions, it is expected to pay by the deadline. Jio declared in its recent financial results that it has estimated the liability for the period from 2010-11 to 2018-19 at Rs 177 crore for licence fee and spectrum user charges (SUC), in view of the SC judgment.