Telecom dept orders telcos to clear dues by February 14 midnight


The Department of Telecom (DoT) on Friday withdrew its order stating that no coercive action should be taken against telecom companies for failing to comply with the Supreme Court order to pay AGR (adjusted gross revenue)-related dues with immediate effect. This follows the Supreme Court taking a stern view of DoT’s failure to collect AGR dues as per its October 24 last order.

While withdrawing the order with immediate effect, the new order also directs that “immediate necessary action” is taken to comply with the October last order that had directed telcos to pay their dues within three months or by January 24.

 

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice for contempt against companies, including telecom majors Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, for not paying a single penny in AGR-related dues. A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra also issued a show-cause notice to the DoT on why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against its officers for literally “staying a Supreme Court judgment” by issuing an internal letter on January 23, 2020, which barred the authorities from taking any “coercive action” against the companies even if they fail to comply with the Supreme Court judgment.

It its October 24 judgment, the court had upheld the recovery of past dues amounting to ₹1.47 lakh crore from the telcos.

After the Supreme Court rap, the DoT has ordered firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear dues before Friday midnight.

The DoT, which faced the ire of the Court, started issuing circle or zone-wise demand notices to firms, an order seen by PTI  said.

The order asked telcos to clear the dues by 11.59 pm Friday.

Airtel offers to pay ₹10,000 cr

Bharti Airtel offered the Department of Telecom (DoT) to pay ₹10,000 crore by February 20 and the rest of the dues before the next date of hearing on the adjusted gross revenue case in the Supreme Court. After facing ire of the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecom on Friday directed all telecom operators to clear their dues by the end of the day.

“Nevertheless, in compliance with the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and their direction today, we shall deposit a sum of ₹10,000 crore (on account) by February 20, 2020, on behalf of the Bharti Group companies,” Airtel said in a letter to Member (Finance) at the DoT.

Airtel owes nearly ₹35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government.

(With inputs from PTI )

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