Telcos complain of errors in AGR calculations, SC cites no re-assessment order


The issues with calculation of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues are far from over. The Supreme Court on Monday said it would pass order on applications filed by telcos — Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Tele Services Ltd – alleging arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues payable by them.

A bench, headed by Justice L.N. Rao, cited the earlier order passed by the top court which clearly points out that no re-assessment of AGR related dues can be done. The telcos, however, submitted that arithmetical errors can be rectified and there are cases of duplication of entries.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, submitted they were not blaming the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for it, and there are arithmetical entries. Rohatgi added that they want to bring these errors to the attention of the department concerned, for their rectification.

As the bench reiterated that the apex court order had made it clear that there can’t be any re-assessment, Rohatgi said that figures are “not cast in stone”, adding that tribunals don’t have the power of review but they can correct arithmetical errors. He submitted that they were not seeking any extension of time.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing Tata Tele Services Ltd, submitted rectification of errors in calculation can be done.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted he has not received any instructions from DoT on allowing correction of errors.

The bench, also comprising Justices S.A. Nazeer and M.R. Shah, observed that it has said not just once, but twice and thrice that AGR demand can’t be recomputed.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing Airtel, said there are cases of duplication and also of payments made but not accounted for. He submitted: “I don’t want to pay thousands of crores on account of these errors.”

Mehta said he can take instructions on this within two days. “It may be little hazardous for me to make statement without taking instructions..,” he said.

After hearing arguments, the bench said it will pass orders in the matter.

In September last year, the top court had given 10 years’ time to telcos, who were struggling to pay Rs 93,520 crores of AGR dues outstanding to the government. The apex court had said that telecom operators shall make the payment of 10 per cent of the total dues as demanded by DoT by March 31, 2021, and the rest had to be paid in yearly instalments commencing from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2031.