Aircel gets ₹751-cr relief; SC directs Airtel, DoT to pay up

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 08, 2019 Published on January 08, 2019

Aircel had contested DoT’s demand for ₹751 crore before the TDSAT

In a much-needed reprieve to Aircel, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Bharti Airtel to pay ₹453 crore immediately and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ₹298 crore to the operator. The payments, which relate to bank guarantees submitted by Aircel, if received soon, will be a lifeblood for the company to continue operations for some more time.

The Apex Court was hearing a contempt petition filed by Aircel employees, who had accused both Airtel and DoT of failing to repay a total of ₹751 crore.

The orders relate to bank guarantees held by DoT in relation to a spectrum transfer in 2016. Airtel’s payment of ₹453 crore is expected immediately as the deadline has expired, while DoT is expected to do by January-end or early February.

The Supreme Court directed Airtel to pay the amount “immediately”, stating that its orders earlier were “misinterpreted”. It repeated the two orders (January 9 and July 23, 2018) and directed these should be immediately acted upon, lawyers present in the court said.

The licensor (DoT) was holding about ₹751 crore as bank guarantees submitted when Aircel transferred its Broadband and Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum to Bharti Airtel in April 2016. Aircel had to pay DoT ₹298 crore in cash and ₹453 crore in bank guarantees (totalling ₹751 crore) as a pre-condition for clearing the spectrum transfer. These were arranged by Airtel, which was deducted from the consideration price of ₹3,500 crore.

Aircel had contested DoT’s demand for ₹751 crore before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which in a January 9, 2018, directed that the bank guarantees be released within four weeks. TDSAT permitted DoT to retain ₹298 crore till another issue was settled.

Aircel did not immediately reply to an email sent by BusinessLine.

Published on January 08, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.