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In big relief, govt to withdraw 96% of AGR dues of PSUs

New Delhi: The Indian government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court it is willing to withdraw 96 per cent of the Rs 4 Lakh crore dues pending against various PSUs in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Center, told a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that the Center is withdrawing 96 per cent of the AGR dues demanded from the PSUs.

Mehta filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining why AGR dues were raised against the PSUs and contended before the court that 96 per cent of Rs 4 Lakh crore bill was withdrawn.

The top court noted that PSUs haven’t been in the business of providing telecom services.

Last week the apex court had pulled up the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) for raising a demand of Rs 4 lakh crore from various PSUs in the garb of its last year judgment on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter and threatened to begin contempt proceedings against the officers concerned.

The apex court had said its judgment was silent on public sector companies, and told the Solicitor General that telecom dues demands against PSUs must be withdrawn.

Mehta argued that PSUs held the telecom spectrum.

The bench again asked Mehta, how could the government used its judgement on AGR to devise a formula to raise demand from various PSUs, when the judgment did not deal with the issue.

The bench said why no demands were made for many years, but the issue has come up after the verdict (AGR judgment in October 2019)?

The bench asked Mehta whether he advised the government to withdraw demands against PSUs.

“Demands raised against PSU wholly impermissible,” added the bench.

Mehta replied that PSUs form a class in themselves, representing public functions, and they discharge government functions, but are different from the private sector.

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Don’t have money to pay our employees, Vodafone tells SC

New Delhi: Vodafone Idea on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the total demand of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues it faces is Rs 50,000 crore, plus the interest and the penalty, but currently, the telecom company does not even have enough money to pay salaries to its employees and meet its expenses.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, told a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah said: “Total demand of Rs 50,000 crore plus interest plus interest, penalty we can’t give… we don’t have enough money even to pay our employees and meet our expenses.”

Rohatgi also argued before the bench that the telecom company is also unable to give any bank guarantee. According to the Center’s calculation, Vodafone Idea owes nearly Rs 53,000 crore, which includes interests and penalties for non-payment of statutory dues.

During the hearing, Rohatgi contended before the bench that the dues are extremely huge and urged the apex court to allow him to file an affidavit in three or four days.

The bench asked the telecom operators, including Vodafone Idea, to file their response, within five days, regarding the roadmap to clear the AGR dues.

Vodafone’s counsel contended before the bench that it is not possible to give bank guarantee for Rs 50,000 crore AGR dues, but says that its spectrum and license could be taken as security.

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