India Says GAIL India, Oil India, Other PSUs ‘Detached’ From AGR Dues Case
A telecom tower. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

India Says GAIL India, Oil India, Other PSUs ‘Detached’ From AGR Dues Case

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The government has detached public sector undertakings, including GAIL (India) Ltd. and Oil India Ltd., from a Supreme Court order that sought Rs 1.47 lakh crore from telecom companies as adjusted gross revenue dues, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Following the top court’s Oct. 24, 2019 order, which upheld the government definition of AGR, the Department of Telecommunications sought a cumulative Rs 2.7 lakh crore from GAIL India and other non-telecom PSUs.

The demand was challenged by the state-owned firms.

"Supreme Court has detached the public sector undertakings (PSUs) from the AGR judgment dated October 24, 2019, and directed them to seek relief from appropriate forum," Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre said in a written reply to a question in the Lower House of the Parliament.

The DoT had sought Rs 1.83 lakh crore from GAIL India and Rs 48,489 crore from Oil India by including their revenues from oil and gas business in calculating dues for leasing out surplus bandwidth capacity to third parties.

Power Grid Corporation Ltd. was slapped with Rs 21,953.65 crore liability and Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. faced Rs 15,019.97 crore demand. RailTel and Delhi Metro too faced similar demands.

"Public sector undertakings such as GAIL, Oil India, etc., represented to Department of Telecom that the AGR judgment is not applicable on them and therefore they do not owe any dues to the Department of Telecom," Dhotre said.

The challenge to such demand was heard by the Supreme Court last month. "After the Supreme Court order dated Feb. 14, 2020, the government abides by the orders of Supreme Court," the minister said.

On Feb. 14, the Supreme Court had pulled up the DoT for not enforcing its Oct. 24 order that gave telecom firms three months to pay dues. Hours later, the DoT sent notices to Airtel and Vodafone Idea asking them to clear dues immediately.

To a separate question, Dhotre said the government has received Rs 15,896.5 crore towards AGR dues while Rs 1,30,440.4 crore remains pending. This number, however, does not seem to reflect the latest tranche of payments made by Airtel on Feb. 29.

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