Bharti Airtel recently submitted a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) of India asking the telecom department to recalculate the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. The telco said that there are ‘arithmetical errors’ in the calculation of dues by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). With the recalculation, Airtel further asked for clarification on the three orders given last year which adjudged the telco to be in dues of Rs 43,980 crore. In its petition at the SC, Bharti Airtel has also requested DoT to take into account the operator’s calculation before arriving at the final amount of dues. More details on the story ahead.
Airtel Points Out the Errors in DoT’s Calculation of AGR Dues
As per an ET Telecom report, Airtel said that DoT didn’t factor duplication of revenues and incorrect interest rates for calculation of spectrum usage charges (SuC) along with payments made by the company already before calculating the final amount. This resulted in a higher total amount that what it should have been.
It is worth noting that the SC has been against recalculation of the AGR dues since last year. When the government made a plea for the telcos to be able to pay their dues in a span of 20 years in March 2020, the SC said there would be no reassessment of the dues. Later in July, the apex court again said no to recalculations and then in September, when it came out with the verdict for the operators to pay the dues in 10 years, it finalised the dues amount which DoT had assessed.
Airtel said that the three mistaken orders given last year cause tremendous prejudice against the operators. The telco said there are multiple arithmetical errors in the DoT assessment and has requested the apex court to allow the telecom department to further make an assessment factoring in the points put forth by the applicants and then announce a final figure of the dues.
Vodafone Idea (Vi) and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) is expected to follow in the footsteps of Airtel and file a petition as well. This might lead to another legal battle between the telecom department and the operators related to AGR dues.
The operators need every bit of money they can get for the upcoming spectrum auctions. As per the current assessment, AGR dues for Airtel is about Rs 44,000 crores, Vi is Rs 58,400 crores, and TTSL is Rs 16,798 crores.
Out of this, Airtel has already paid Rs 18,004 crore, Vi has paid Rs 7,854 crore, and TTSL has paid Rs 4,197 crore.