Following the Supreme Court's recent AGR ruling, telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone Idea and others may have to pay the government a whopping Rs 1.42 lakh crore within three months, news agency PTI reports. While Bharti Airtel faces a liability of around Rs 42,000 crore after including licence fees and spectrum usage charges, Vodafone Idea may have to pay about Rs 40,000 crore. Jio may have to pay around Rs 14 crore. The remaining liability is with state-owned BSNL/MTNL and some of the shut/bankrupt companies.
Now, the Telecom Department is reviewing whether the apex court order also impacts any other company which uses spectrum or has a licence. The communications ministry has started examining whether the Supreme Court's ruling on the definition of telecom revenue may apply to any company that utilises radio waves and has a telecom licence, throwing up the possibility of statutory dues swelling beyond Rs 3 lakh crore, according to a source.
A DoT official privy to the development said instructions have gone to the licencing wing to carefully examine the implication of the apex court's recent ruling for all such companies. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will take a week or so to arrive at a definitive conclusion on the matter, the source added. The Supreme Court last month upheld the government's way of calculating telecom revenue, on which licence fee and spectrum usage charges are computed.
"As we dwell deeper, the issue of larger implications of the SC order is coming up for other firms," the DoT official was quoted by PTI.
The AGR issue may go well beyond telcos and include other categories of licences or companies utilising radiowaves in oil and gas, power and even railways sectors. The question before the telecom department is whether the statutory dues, therefore, have to be calculated on the overall revenue. In that case, the statutory dues may climb beyond Rs 3 lakh crore, the DoT official told PTI.
(With PTI inputs)