The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a review petition by telecom operators urging the apex court for a new schedule to pay the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues. The apex court also initiated contempt of order proceedings against the panel representing the telecom companies for not complying with the order earlier. A three-judge bench constituting of Justices Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah also directed the presence of all Directors of the telecom companies for the next hearing. The telecom companies had appealed before the top court challenging the AGR verdict on Rs 92,000 crores of past dues on them. The next hearing is set to be heard on March 17.
On October 24, 2019, the Supreme Court in its verdict had directed that the definition for AGR will include non-core revenues to calculate levies and had later upheld central government's plea on the definition of AGR involving around Rs 90,000 crores. The Justice Mishra-headed bench also questioned the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as to why they did not take any action against telecoms for failing to pay the dues as directed.
Reacting to non-payment of the dues, Justice Arun Mishra stated that he was 'literally shocked' that a single penny has not been paid till date. Expressing his anguish over the SC order which was 'stayed' by a DoT desk officer, Justice Mishra said that this is not the way your officer should behave. "Is there no law left in this country? I am literally anguished. I should not work in this country at all. This cannot happen in this country. We cannot function in this fashion. Let’s wind up the Supreme Court. It is better to leave this country. They can stay the order? There is so much money power," Justice Mishra stated.
The October judgement passed by the Supreme Court had granted 90 days to telecoms to pay the dues sought from them on AGR account. The period of 90 days lapsed on January 24 and without paying any due, the companies approached the SC seeking a modification of the order. Bharti Airtel, in the review petition, stated that 90 days was not sufficient for the company to undergo the process of evaluating dues and then paying. Vodafone argued that it was facing financial stress and the company is not in a position to make a payment.