Non-telco PSUs move SC seeking clarity on order about payment of AGR dues

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Over the next few days, more public sector undertakings are likely to approach the SC for similar clarification.

Non-telecom public sector companies like Oil India (OIL), Gail India, Power Grid Corporation (PGCIL) and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Friday moved separate pleas before the Supreme Court seeking clarity on the applicability of its October 24, 2019, order on payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. They have sought a clarification from the apex whether the order on payment of licence fee and spectrum usage charge dues also applies to them.

Senior counsel Maninder Singh mentioned the applications for urgent hearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde, which posted the matter for hearing next week along with various modification applications filed by telecom companies, including Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices. The telcos have sought permission to approach the DoT for scheduling their payments and also easier payment terms.

Over the next few days, more public sector undertakings are likely to approach the SC for similar clarification.

The PSUs have told the SC that they were never heard on the issue before the order was passed and their revenues from their regular businesses were disproportionately higher than the income from the telecom business.

The DoT has demanded Rs 1.72 lakh crore from Gail, Rs 48,000 crore from Oil India, Rs 22,168 crore from PowerGrid and Rs 5,841 crore from DMRC, among others.

OIL, in its application, said that while it earned barely Rs 1.47 crore from leasing spare capacity, the DoT has demanded Rs 40,108 crore licence fee based on its entire revenue, including sale of oil and gas, thus “completely ignoring the fact that the AGR definition under the UAS Licence Agreement is materially different from the definition of ‘revenue’ under the NLD Licence Agreement”.

DMRC, which also sought clarification, said that the DoT’s “unjust demand” would lead to “evaporation of financial structure of DMRC and would lead to operations coming to a standstill to the great detriment of the commuting public of national capital region”. (FE)