Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

AGR case: DoT’s ‘desk officer’ issued order after senior official’s nod

AGR case: DoT’s ‘desk officer’ issued order after senior official’s nod

They have now approached the court to sit down with the Department of Telecommunications and figure out a payment plan.

After Supreme Court rap, the telecom department began issuing orders, directing companies such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to clear dues before Friday midnight. The telecom companies had contested the government's definition of revenues subject to tax. Please ask the desk officer to withdraw that dot order or he will go behind the bars by evening.

The letter that the court referred to, written last month, was titled: "No coercive action to be taken against telecom service providers in relation to AGR dues". "We hereby wish to inform that the aforesaid conference call has been postponed", Vodafone Idea said in a regulatory filing. Mishra asked. "This is the outcome of money power!"

"The Company is now assessing the amount that it will be able to pay to DoT towards the dues calculated based on AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue), as interpreted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated 24 October 2019". They can stay the order? Its shares rose 4.69% on Friday as the telecom operator is in a better position to pay and the prospects of it being only the second major telecom network to fight Reliance Jio, the top network run by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani .

"It's a Supreme Court order and I would not like to comment on an order issued by the apex court and its consequences this way or that way".

Justice Mishra said his judicial conscience was shaken.

"Should we wind up the Supreme Court?"

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The move threatens the survival of Vodafone Idea, a joint venture of Britain's Vodafone Group Plc and India's Idea Cellular, as the unit is saddled with about $3.9 billion in overdue payments.

"It is directed to take immediate necessary action in compliance with the judgement dated October 24, 2019 of the Supreme Court", said the fresh order issued by the DoT.

Vodafone Idea is the worst off with its dues assessed at Rs 53,039 crore that includes Rs 24,729 crore in spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fees. These petitions were withdrawn after the apex court ruled that they could represent their case at appropriate forums.

Reports suggest that Bharti Airtel has offered to pay Rs 10,000 crore by March 2 - before the next hearing of the Supreme Court.

The telecom companies have been carrying out a self-assessment process to assess their liabilities. Vodafone Idea which will have to bear the legacy burden of the two merged entities - has already posted ₹6,439 crore for the third quarter.

While Airtel has bought itself a sigh of relief, Vodafone Idea is yet to finalise its way to come out of this debacle.

"As directed by DoT, the company is undertaking a self-assessment exercise for computation of liability as per the AGR judgment", Vodafone Idea said in a presentation.

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