New Delhi [India], June 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on telecommunication companies for not having paid the pending adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. The apex court also said that the Centre misused the court's judgment in the matter.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra and also comprising Justices MR Shah and S Abdul also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to clearly tell why "totally impermissible" demand of Rs 4 lakh crore has been raised on the PSUs.
Responding to a demand to allow these telecom companies to pay the mammoth AGR dues in a staggered fashion over a period of 20 years, the apex court asked who had seen 20 years in the future?
Mehta, appearing for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), said that the Central government has extensively examined the issue and has come out with the bail-out package.
"It would be difficult for the companies to pay the amount in one go. If the court objects, it will adversely impact the telecom sector, effect network, and the consumers will ultimately suffer," Mehta submitted before the court.
He said that the Central government will file an affidavit on why dues were raised against PSUs, after which the apex court asked the government to reconsider demands on PSUs.
Telecom companies have to file affidavits on how will they pay the rest of the dues, the Supreme Court observed and adjourned the matter for further hearing on June 18.
The apex court had, in the last hearing, pulled up the telecom companies as well as the DoT for allegedly failing to move forward with the statutorily payable dues.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Airtel Bharti, said that it had paid 100 percent of its self-assessed AGR dues and added that it will confirm the remaining dues with government and clear it.
Bharti Airtel had in February said that it has deposited a total payment of Rs 18,004 crore towards AGR dues to the DoT, therefore complying with the Supreme Court judgment.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone Idea, said that there is a total demand of over Rs 50,000 crore along with interest and penalty. "We don't have enough money even to pay our employees and meet our expenses," Rohatgi said. (ANI)