Editorial: Hello, hello

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Centre and telecom companies for doing self-assessment or reassessment of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues fixed by the apex court in its verdict given on October 24 last year.

The top court, which was also anguished by frequently published newspaper articles on the AGR issue, said all Managing Directors of telecom companies will be personally responsible and will be held for contempt of court for any such future newspaper articles.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S A Nazeer and M R Shah refused to take up the Centre’s plea for allowing telecom companies to pay AGR dues in 20 years, saying the application will be taken up after two weeks.

The Centre moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking approval of its formula to allow telecom companies to pay their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues in annual instalments for over 20 years to avoid impact on the economy.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, mentioned the application for urgent listing saying that if a telecom company goes bankrupt due to the dues, it would have a major impact on the sector.

The Centre in its application said that looking at the most possible and perhaps inevitable scenario in mind and in larger interest of economic consequences on the nation, the central government has taken a decision to seek approval of this court to a formula arrived at for recovery of the past dues from the telecom service providers.

”This formula, which is placed for approval/ permission of this court, is arrived at after a detailed and long drawn deliberations at various levels of the government in the administrative hierarchy including the cabinet and keeping the vital issues related to the financial health and viability of the telecom sector and need for maintaining competition and level playing field in the interest of consumers,” it said.

While call and data rates in India are among the lowest in the world, rates which are to be paid to the government by telcos should be paid promptly.

NT Bureau