Telecom Operators Move Plea In Supreme Court Seeking Fresh Schedule For Paying Dues
A plane flies over a telecom tower. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)  

Telecom Operators Move Plea In Supreme Court Seeking Fresh Schedule For Paying Dues

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to list next week fresh pleas of telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd. and Tata Teleservices Ltd., seeking a fresh schedule of payment of statutory dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde took note of submissions by a battery of senior lawyers including AM Singhvi and CA Sundaram and said it will list the fresh pleas "sometime in next week" before the same bench which had heard the earlier petition in the high-stake matter.

"We are not disputing the payment to be made by us rather we want working out of fresh schedule of payment," Sundaram told the bench which also comprised justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.

The telecom companies said they wanted an open court hearing on their fresh pleas with regard to working out fresh schedule of payment of their dues.

"That (open court or in-chamber hearing) will be decided by the bench concerned," the Chief Justice of India said.

Earlier on Jan. 16, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed review petitions of telecom firms seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by Jan. 23, saying it did not find any "justifiable reason" to entertain them.

Also read: Supreme Court Rejects Telecom Firms’ Review Petitions Against AGR Verdict

The apex court had on Oct. 24 last year upheld the AGR definition formulated by the DoT and termed as "frivolous" the nature of objections raised by telecom service providers.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Parliament in November last that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies owe the government as much as Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues.

In an affidavit filed earlier in the top court, the DoT said Airtel owed Rs 21,682.13 crore as licence fee to the government and dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 19,823.71 crore, while Reliance Communications owed Rs 16,456.47 crore. BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore, and MTNL Rs 2,537.48 crore.

Also read: What Will It Take To Save Vodafone Idea...

Holding that interest and penalty have rightly been levied on telecom companies, the apex court had made it clear that there would be no further litigation on the issue and it would fix a time-frame for calculation and payment of dues by telecom firms.

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