AGR dues: Voda Idea cites previous SC orders, urges it to re-hear petition

Vodafone Idea
Vodafone Idea (Vi) has cited earlier Supreme Court (SC) judgments in its petition, urging the apex court to set aside its order of July 23 and re-hear the company's plea for rectification of error in the adju­sted gross revenue (AGR). Vi urged the SC to allow the Department of Telecommu­nications (DoT) to recalculate the AGR dues.

Vi's counsel Mukul Rohatgi has requested the SC to take cognisance of the matter and give the company another hearing. The company said that in a matter pertaining to the Central Bank of India versus Central Bank of India SC/ST Employees' Association, the SC drew from its earlier decision on reservations in promotions and took a broader view of the review jurisdiction.

SC had observed that once an error is found in the order or judgment, which is apparent in the face of the record and meets the test of review jurisdiction, there was no reason to feel hesitant in accepting such a mistake and rectifying it.

On July 23, the SC dismissed the petitions of telecommmunications (telecom) companies for a recomputation of AGR dues. The appeal has been filed, even as DoT is considering measures to provide financial relief to the sector.

Vi did not respond to an email query till the time of going to press. With an accumulated debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion, Vi is likely to be the most adversely hit by the SC verdict. Vi had calculated its rema­ining AGR dues at around Rs 21,500 crore, after making a payment of Rs 7,800 crore. How­ever, DoT arrived at around Rs 58,000 crore as total AGR liability for the firm.

The AGR calculation row surfaced after the SC on September 1, 2020, allowed telecom companies to pay their AGR dues to the government in tranches spread over a 10-year tenure, beginning with an upfront payment of 10 per cent of total. The payment timeline started from April 1.

Last week, Kumar Mangalam Birla stepped down as non-executive chairman of Vi after offering to give up his stake in the telecom company.

Himanshu Kapania, a telecom industry veteran and a nominee of Aditya Birla Group on the board, will take over the chairman’s post. In his letter written on June 7, Birla had said he was willing to offer his stake to any government or domestic financial entity to keep Vi afloat. Bharti Airtel, too, is likely to move court for relief.

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