Supreme Court dismisses telecom majors’ pleas to record grievances on ‘arithmetical errors’ in calculation

A view of Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on July 23 dismissed applications filed by major telecom firms such as Voda-Idea and Airtel for a chance to place their grievances about “arithmetical errors” in their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues before the Department of Telecom (DoT).

They had sought an opportunity to correct the mistakes in the calculations.

A Special Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah pronounced the order.

In a September 2020 judgment, the top court had ordered that the annual 10% instalments for payment of AGR dues would commence from April 1, 2021, up to March 31, 2031.

In the last hearing, Airtel, Voda-Idea and Tata were among some of the companies that assured the court that they paid “more than” their expected instalment.

However, Voda-Idea had complained about the “arithmetical errors” in the calculation of AGR dues.

“If I have paid ₹1, only 50 paise is reflected... In one entry, the actual payment made is ₹155 crore, payment shown in DOT is ₹153 crore,” senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for Voda, had submitted.

The Bench had, however, reminded the telecom firms about the express bar imposed by the Supreme Court on the re-assessment of AGR dues.

“The Supreme Court has said not just once, but twice and thrice that the amounts cannot be recomputed,” the Bench had addressed Mr. Rohatgi in the hearing.

“The figure is not cast in stone. The court has power to correct arithmetical errors. My dues are ₹58,000 crore. We are about to go under. Our debts are ₹1.8 lakh crore. Let us place our calculations before DoT, let them take a call,” Mr. Rohatgi had urged.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for Airtel, had echoed Mr. Rohatgi’s submission for a chance to place the calculations before the DoT.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, for Tata, too had submitted they were not seeking a recomputation of their dues, but only an opportunity with DoT to rectify certain mistakes in calculation.

In September last year, the top court had allowed telecom companies 10 years’ time to pay their AGR dues to the government. The government had initially proposed a 20-year “formula” for them to make staggered payments of the dues that had run up to ₹1.43 lakh crore at that time.

An earlier October 24, 2019, judgment of the court in the AGR case had originally wanted the telecom firms to make their repayments in three months.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 2:28:19 PM |

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