Bharti Airtel has announced that it is considering filing a curative petition in the matter. The announcement comes after the Supreme Court dismissed review petitions on Thursday. The petitions were filed by telcos challenging its verdict in the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) case. Curative petition is the last constitutional remedy available to a person whose review petition has been dismissed by the Supreme Court. The telecom major in a statement expressed disappointment and noted that the AGR dues would further impact the industry which is already reeling under a severe financial stress.
Bharti Airtel considers filing curative petition
“While respecting the Supreme Court’s decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine,” Bharti Airtel said. “The industry continues to face severe financial stress and the outcome could further erode the viability of the sector as a whole. The industry needs to continue to invest in expanding networks, acquiring spectrum and introducing New Technologies like 5G. The money now required to pay punitive interest, penalty and interest on penalty which forms nearly 75 percent of AGR dues would have better served the digital mission of the country,” the company said.
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A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices S.A. Nazeer and M.R. Shah found no merit in the review petitions and dismissed it. The final deadline for the telecom companies to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore is on January 23. The Telecom Ministry in November told Parliament that telcos owe nearly Rs 1.47 lakh crore in license fee (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC). The total amount is split in two halves — license fee comes to Rs 92,642 crore as of July 2019 and SUC comes to Rs 55,054 crore as of October 2019.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea hold the majority of these liabilities, which emerge from these dues. For Bharti Airtel, dues are around Rs 35,586 crore — Rs 21,682 crore as LF and Rs 13,904 crore as SUC and for Vodafone Idea the dues amount to Rs 53,038 crore, of which Rs 28,309 crore in LF and Rs 24,730 crore in SUC. Airtel has raised $3 billion through a qualified institutional placement (QIP) and an overseas bond to repay the government dues. While Vodafone Idea Ltd has changed the terms of its rights issue to partly use the proceeds for the AGR dues.
(Written with IANS inputs)