Vodafone Idea files review petition in apex court on AGR dues

Vodafone Idea
Debt-laden Vodafone Idea (Vi), which is struggling for survival, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday, seeking a review of its July 23 order that dismissed the petitions of telecom firms for a re-computation of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. Airtel, too, is likely to move the court for relief, sources said.

The appeal has been filed even as the telecom department is considering measures to provide financial relief for the sector. Vi did not respond to an email query on the matter. With an accumulated debt of about Rs 1.8 trillion, Vi is likely to be the most adversely hit by the Supreme Court verdict.

Vi had calculated its remaining AGR dues at around Rs 21,500 crore after making a payment of Rs 7,800 crore. However, the telecom department (DoT) arrived at around Rs 58,000 crore as the total AGR liability for the firm.

During the hearing, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Vi, had argued that the AGR figures were not cast in stone and that the Supreme Court had powers to correct the “arithmetic error”.

The AGR calculation row surfaced after the Supreme Court on September 1, 2020, allowed telecom companies to pay their AGR dues to the government in instalments spread over a 10-year period, beginning with an upfront payment of 10 per cent of the total. The payment timeline started from April 1, 2021.

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 said he was willing to offer his stake to any government or domestic financial entity to keep Vi afloat.

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