Monday, 30th October 2017

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SC squashes AGR review plea

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are the worst affected

  • Published 17.01.20, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 17.01.20, 12:12 AM
  • a min read
Airtel faces statutory dues of Rs 35,586 crore (Shutterstock)

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the petitions of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea seeking a review of certain directions passed in its judgment on October 24 favouring the government on the recovery of telecom dues worth Rs 1.47 lakh crore. The operators will have to now pay up their dues by January 23.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are the worst affected by the squashing of the review petition, and both the operators have said they would explore the possibility of a curative petition.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, S.A. Nazeer and M.R. Shah in an in-chamber hearing did not find merit in the review plea and dismissed it. In an in-chamber hearing, the judges first take a call on whether the review pleas need to be heard at all and if so whether in an open court or not.

“Applications for hearing in open court/oral hearing are rejected. Having perused the review petitions and the connected papers with meticulous care, we do not find any justifiable reason to entertain the review petitions. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench said.

Vodafone Idea and Airtel face statutory dues of Rs 53,039 crore and Rs 35,586 crore respectively. Tata Teleservices, which has sold its consumer mobility business to Airtel, faces dues of Rs 13,823 crore. Including the three, some 15 opertors need to pay over Rs 1.47 lakh crore.

“While respecting the Supreme Court’s decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine. The industry continues to face severe financial stress and the outcome could further erode the viability of the sector as a whole,” a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said.

“We wish to inform you that Hon'ble Supreme Court, has dismissed the review petition filed by the company and other telecom operators. The company is exploring further options, including filing of a curative petition,” Vodafone Idea said in a stock exchange filing.

The telecom department has also sought about Rs 3 lakh crore from non-telecom companies such as GAIL.