In July, Bench concluded that what telecom firms really wanted, under guise of correcting ‘arithmetical errors’, was recalculation of their AGR that runs into crores of rupees
Telecom major Voda-Idea has urged the Supreme Court to review its dismissal of their request for an opportunity to place grievances about “arithmetical errors” in their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues before the Department of Telecom (DoT).
A Special Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah concluded on July 23 last that what Voda and other telecommunication companies such as Airtel and Tata really wanted, under the guise of correcting “arithmetical errors”, was a recalculation of their AGR which ran into crores of rupees.
In a September 2020 judgment, the court ordered that the annual 10% instalments for payment of the AGR dues would commence from April 1, 2021 up to March 31, 2031.
Airtel, Voda-Idea and Tata had told the court that they had paid “more than” their expected instalments. However, it had not been impressed.
‘Request looked innocuous’
Dismissing their applications to “correct” Math mistakes, the court said their request, at “first blush”, looked “innocuous”, but was only a roundabout way to recompute their AGR debts – a path expressly forbidden by the court in an order on July 20 last year.
“The dispute relating to AGR dues had remained pending in courts for a very long period of time, and bearing this in mind, this court was at pains to emphasise, at the cost of repetition, that the AGR dues payable by TSPs cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation. The July 20 order makes it clear that there is no scope for any recalculation/re-computation of AGR dues,” the eight-page Supreme Court order of the Justice Rao Bench had reminded the telecom majors.
The court had also pointed out that this was not the first time the companies had tried to alter the dues.
The July order had “made it clear that no dispute could be raised in respect of AGR dues that had been arrived at, on the basis of calculations made by the Union of India”.
It had reiterated, “No telecom operator shall raise any dispute in respect of the demand raised by the Department of Telecommunications pertaining to AGR dues, based on the judgment of this court of October 24, 2019. It was also held that there cannot be any reassessment”.
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