The two state-run telecom operators, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) owe the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) thousands of crores in adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.
To be precise, BSNL and MTNL together owe around Rs 10,000 crores to the DoT for AGR dues. Individually, BSNL has dues of Rs 5,835 crores and MTNL of Rs 4,352 crores. According to a PTI report, the AGR dues calculated for the two telcos includes interest and interest on the penalty.
The total dues calculated are for up to FY2016-17. Both the telcos have not paid anything on the AGR dues front to the DoT. To recall, the SC, on September 1, 2020, had ordered all the telcos to pay a 10% advance on their AGR dues before the end of March 31, 2021.
But none of the telcos has fulfilled that order. Thus, DoT has filed an affidavit for the same in SC, saying that Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi) and Tata Telecommunications need to clear their dues.
The telcos say that they don’t have to pay anything since they have already paid more than 10% advance on their dues.
Do note that even though the state-run telcos weren’t part of the AGR dues litigation last year, both BSNL’s and MTNL’s names were included in the DoT’s list of companies that were liable to pay the dues.
But the DoT isn’t going after BSNL and MTNL the same way it is targeting Airtel, Vi, and Tata Tele. The private operators have further asked for a recalculation of the dues saying that DoT had made ‘arithmetical errors’ while calculating total dues.
The total dues assessed by the telcos and the DoT’s assessments differ by a mile. It will be interesting to see how the SC approaches the operators' recalculation request when it had made crystal clear that it won’t entertain any further reassessment requests.