Days after SC rap, Airtel pays Rs 10,000 crore to DoT as part of its AGR dues

Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Monday (February 17) said that it has paid Rs 10,000 crore towards the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It is to be noted that Airtel owes a total of Rs 35,500 crore to the Centre as spectrum charges and licence fee, reported PTI.

Bharti Airtel said in a statement that it has paid Rs 9,500 crore on behalf of Bharti Airtel Limited (including Telenor India) and Rs 500 crore on behalf of Bharti Hexacom. “We are in the process of completing the self-assessment exercise expeditiously and will duly make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing in the SC,” it added.

Earlier on Friday (February 14), Bharti Airtel had offered the DoT to pay Rs 10,000 crore by February 20, but the company was told by the DoT that the department cannot grant any extension.

On Friday, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah had issued notices to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices and others, ordering them to pay adjusted gross revenue of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the DoT before March 17. Coming down heavily on these companies, the apex court had noted that if the amount was not paid, the managing directors and other senior officers of the companies will have to face legal action.

It may be recalled that on January 15, the SC had rejected pleas filed by telecom firms seeking a review of its earlier order asking these companies to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues to DoT by January 23. While rejecting the petitions, the top court had said that it did not find any “justifiable reason” to entertain the petitions.

The legal tussle between the government and the telecom firms over the definition of AGR is ongoing for the last 14 years. The telecom department calculates levies payable by companies on the basis of AGR.