The legal applicability of the January 23 deadline for AGR payment of more than Rs 2.4 trillion statutory dues in the case of non-telecom PSUs is under the examination of the Department of Telecom (DoT). According to the report citing industry sources, statutory dues in the case of non-telecom PSUs which were not originally party to the AGR dispute in the Supreme Court.
PTI reports that while the PSUs have been asked to make payments related to statutory liabilities after the Supreme Court upheld the government's position on the calculation of non-core revenue for AGR dues in October, the question remains whether the January 23 deadline is legally enforceable on state-owned companies that were not direct party to the dispute.
It seems like the Telecom Depart differs from the Supreme Court’s stand imposing the January 23 deadline to clear non-telecom PSU dues and while the matter is being legally examined for clarity.
"Of course, the court has decided the issue of principle of what is AGR, so they (PSUs) have to pay but if they do not pay by January 23 it will not be contempt as it will be in case of the parties to the case. So PSUs have to pay and we have raised demands, but if they do not pay by January 23 it will not amount to contempt of court on their part because they were not party to the case, but they have to pay," a source added.
Another government official told the news agency that the issue involving the deadline for PSUs is being examined legally. Telecom operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, are legally bound to comply with the payment timelines stipulated by the apex court.
Following the Supreme Court order from October last year, the DoT estimated that the total liability of 15 telecom companies, including penalties and interest, would be Rs 1.47 lakh crore.
These AGR liabilities arose after the Supreme Court last year upheld the government's position on including revenue from non-telecommunication businesses for calculating the annual Adjusted Gross Revenue of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fees to the exchequer.
It has estimated another more than Rs 2.4 lakh crore in liability for non-telecom companies, including state-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd and power transmission firm PowerGrid, which had taken licences to trade broadband on optic fibre running along their pipelines and transmission lines.
The DoT has sought Rs 1.72 lakh crore in past statutory dues from state-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd following the Supreme Court's AGR ruling. The DoT sent a letter to GAIL last month seeking these dues on IP-1 and IP-2 licences as well as Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence, in response to which, GAIL has told DoT that it owes nothing more than what it has already paid to the government.
The assessment puts PowerGrid liability at Rs 21,000 crore, and another Rs 40,000 crore liability was assessed by Oil India Ltd. However, a demand notice was served in the case of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd for Rs 15,019 crore.
(With inputs from PTI)