SC: Telecos tried to recalculate AGR under guise of correcting ‘arithmetical errors’

Legal Correspondent New Delhi | Updated on July 24, 2021

The court said this was not the first time the companies had tried to alter the dues

The Supreme Court said what major telecom service providers (TSPs) like Vodafone, Airtel and Tata really wanted, under the guise of correcting “arithmetical errors”, was a recalculation of their adjusted gross revenues (AGR) running into crores.

The copy of the order pronounced by a three-judge Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao on Friday, was published on Saturday.

These applications by the telecom majors to “correct” math mistakes, which at “first blush” look “innocuous”, was a roundabout way to recompute their AGR debts — a path expressly forbidden by the Supreme Court in an order on July 20 last year.

“The dispute relating to AGR dues had remained pending in courts for a very long period of time and bearing this in mind, this court was at pains to emphasize, at the cost of repetition, that the AGR dues payable by TSPs cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation. The order of July 20, 2020 makes it clear that there is no scope for any recalculation/re-computation of AGR dues,” the eight-page Supreme Court order of the Justice Rao Bench reminded the telecom majors.

Also read: BSNL pins hopes on ₹20,000-crore dues from DoT for revival

The court said this was not the first time the companies had tried to alter the dues. “Even at the time of passing of the July 20 order, an attempt was made to seek recalculation and reassessment, which was rejected by this court outright,” the apex court, dismissing the applications.

The July 20 order had “made it clear that no dispute could be raised in respect of AGR dues that had been arrived at, on the basis of calculations made by the Union of India”.

“No telecom operator shall raise any dispute in respect of the demand raised by the Department of Telecommunications pertaining to AGR dues, based on the judgment of this court of October 24, 2019. It was also held that there cannot be any reassessment,” the Supreme Court reiterated.

Published on July 24, 2021

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