New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to list next week fresh pleas of telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, seeking a fresh schedule of payment of statutory dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the Department of Telecommunications.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of submissions by a battery of senior lawyers including A M Singhvi and C A Sundaram and said it will list the fresh pleas ‘sometime in next week’ before the same bench which had heard the earlier petition in the high-stake matter.
”We are not disputing the payment to be made by us rather we want working out of fresh schedule of payment,” Sundaram told the bench which also comprised justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.
The telcos said they wanted an open court hearing on their fresh pleas with regard to working out fresh schedule of payment of their dues. ”That (open court or in-chamber hearing) will be decided by the bench concerned,” the CJI said.
Earlier on 16 January, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had dismissed review petitions of telecom firms seeking review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues by 23 January, saying it did not find any ‘justifiable reason’ to entertain them.
The apex court had on 24 October last year upheld the AGR definition formulated by the DoT and termed as ‘frivolous’ the nature of objections raised by telecom service providers.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Parliament in November last that Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies owe the government as much as Rs 1.47 lakh crore in statutory dues.
In an affidavit filed earlier in the top court, the DoT said Airtel owed Rs 21,682.13 crore as licence fee to the government and dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 19,823.71 crore, while Reliance Communications owed Rs 16,456.47 crore. BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore, and MTNL Rs 2,537.48 crore.
Holding that interest and penalty have rightly been levied on telecom companies, the apex court had made it clear that there would be no further litigation on the issue and it would fix a time-frame for calculation and payment of dues by telecom firms.