Govt ought to kind approach to recover AGR dues from bankrupt telcos, suggests SC

The Supreme Court of India Photo: Mint

The Supreme Court docket on Monday noticed the government to get ready a strategy to recover modified gross profits (AGR)-relevant dues from bankrupt telecom operators such as Reliance Communications Ltd, Aircel Team and Videocon Communications Ltd.

The apex court docket noticed that restoration of dues may perhaps not be doable from telcos undergoing insolvency, when asking the government to clarify no matter whether spectrum can be sold beneath the Insolvency and Individual bankruptcy Code (IBC). The circumstance has been adjourned to 14 August.

The court docket, on the other hand, did not mention the get reserved on the timeline of staggered payment by Vodafone Plan Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Tata Teleservices. Both of those Vodafone and Airtel have sought 15 decades to apparent the dues, when Tata Teleservices wants 7-10 many years.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra requested the section of telecommunications (DoT) to file the orders of the Countrywide Organization Regulation Tribunal and National Organization Legislation Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that had allowed the sale of spectrum right before the future hearing.

The authorities apprised the apex court that spectrum owned by these telcos cannot be bought underneath the IBC as it is national assets, adding that it has challenged the NCLT’s order in the Supreme Courtroom permitting the sale of spectrum. Having said that, both equally RCom and Airtel argued that spectrum is transferable and can be offered and acquired.

In accordance to DoT estimates, RCom owes 25,199 crore, which includes spectrum utilization fees (SUC) and license expenses, which is just about 50 percent of 49,054 crore calculated less than the company’s insolvency proceedings. Aircel owes 12,389 crore to the DoT.

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Senior law firm Shyam Divan, symbolizing RCom’s resolution professional, apprised the bench that the insolvency process was pending before the NCLT. “Monetisation procedure outside the house the IBC failed thanks to lack of consensus amongst lenders,” claimed Divan.

Divan mentioned, “RCom’s most important asset is the spectrum, it can be marketed or monetised beneath the IBC to realise benefit for banking institutions,” to which the courtroom replied that the proceeds from the resolution ought to also be employed to distinct dues of the DoT. RCom has admitted the DoT as operational creditor, which signifies that it will not get priority in recovering the dues.

The apex courtroom on 24 Oct upheld the DoT’s broader definition of AGR and ordered telcos to pay back levies primarily based on that definition, together with desire on the principal amount and penalty. The DoT calculates levies this kind of as SUC and license fees dependent on AGR.

The court docket directed 15 telcos, together with the ones that have shut functions, to pay 1.47 trillion in AGR dues within 3 months.

Vodafone Notion has so considerably compensated 7,854 crore to the DoT but still wants to crystal clear far more than 50,000 crore in AGR dues.

In accordance to Airtel’s self-evaluation, it owes 13,004 crore to the DoT. The telco has now paid out this sum together with an more 5,000 crore in advertisement-hoc payment subject matter to refund/adjustment to go over dissimilarities arising out of reconciliation with the DoT.

Sarah Gracie

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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