AGR Case: After Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Approaches Supreme Court To Seek Modification Of Dues
Vodafone Idea Ltd. has approached the Supreme Court seeking a modification in its verdict last year that allowed telecom operators time to repay pending dues based on the new definition of adjusted gross revenue, a day after peer Bharti Airtel Ltd. approached the apex court seeking a similar change in its dues.
Arithmetical errors in the Department of Telecommunication’s assessment of the AGR dues amount to around Rs 5,932 crore of the principal amount, Vodafone Idea told court in its application filed on Jan. 7, adding it will have an impact of four times this amount after taking into account the interest, penalty, and interest on penalty.
The errors in the department’s submission of dues in its application in March 2020, the company said, was held final by the top court. Vodafone Idea has sought the court’s direction to allow the department to consider the company’s submission and carry out the necessary corrections.
According to the company:
- The department didn’t account/adjust for payments already made by the company while issuing the demand for dues.
- Some instances of double-counting of revenue occurred while calculating the AGR demand.
- The department didn’t grant certain deductions related to call and roaming charges.
The company has pointed out that in its application of March 2020, the Department of Telecommunications itself had noted that the dues being submitted to the court were based on preliminary assessment and were subject to further evaluation.
In October 2019, the Supreme Court had ruled that non-core revenue must be included while calculating statutory levies, ending a 14-year-old legal battle between mobile operators and the government on the definition of AGR. That had increased the liabilities of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to more than Rs 90,000 crore.
Soon after, the companies approached court seeking more time for payment of dues. In September last year, the apex court had allowed for the payment of dues over a period of 10 years.
When the Supreme Court delivered its judgment, the process of reconciliation of demands was in process, Senior Advocate Tarun Gulati said when asked for a comment on the application by the two companies.
The Supreme Court has never had the occasion to consider the correctness of the figures and had only decided on principles to be adopted and seeking a correct assessment based on those principles does not amount to a review of the Supreme Court decision.Tarun Gulati, Senior Advocate
Advocate Sanjoy Ghose said this isn’t a unique demand, adding that the court generally deals with such requests on a case-to-case basis.
Though technically no fresh application is maintainable in a disposed of case, there are instances when even after a final judgment has been delivered,a party may approach the court seeking modification of the judgment. On the current issue,it is difficult to say how will the court approach the request. There has been a certain element of subjectivity and the courts have dealt with such requests on a case to case basis. However,it cannot be completely ruled that the companies may get some relief from the top court if they manage to convince the court of the errors they are pointing out in the calculation of the dues.Sanjoy Ghose, Advocate