AGR Case: SC Asks Telcos to Clear the Dues in Next 10 Years

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Hearing for AGR dues case has been going on for a few weeks now. But today, the Supreme Court has announced its verdict on how long the telcos will have to clear the dues. The SC had posed a lot of questions over the course of the hearing. Questions such as how will the telcos guarantee to pay the dues? Telecom companies wanted the spectrum they held to be considered as a security against dues or loans. This again became an issue for the DoT and the SC. Another question which was raised during the hearing was whether or not the telcos can sell the spectrum under IBC. But the answer to this question hasn't been decided yet. the SC in the hearing today said that it will leave this decision to be made by NCLT.

Telcos Will Pay the Dues in 10 Years

The SC has given the telcos a time of 10 years to clear their remaining AGR dues. DoT had originally asked the SC for the time to be 20 years for the telcos to clear their dues while Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited wanted it to be 15 years. But in the hearing today, SC has directed the telcos to pay all the dues within 10 years.

The apex court said that the 10 year period for payments will start from April 1, 2020. Telcos will have to pay the 10% amount upfront. In case any telco misses out on the date of payments, they will have to pay interests, penalty, and will also invite contempt of court. As for the sale of spectrum under IBC, SC said that it will leave the matter in the hands of NCLT. NCLT will decide as per law whether it can happen or not.

According to the DoT assessment, the total AGR dues that the telcos have to shell out is Rs 1.19 lakh crore. Out of which, Bharti Airtel owes Rs 43,989 crore, Tata Teleservices owes Rs 16,798 crore, and Vodafone Idea Limited owes Rs 58,254 crore. There are dues for insolvent companies as well. Videocon owes Rs 1,376 crore, Aircel owes Rs 12,289 crore, and Reliance Communications owes Rs 25,199 crore.

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