The Department of Telecom (DoT) informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Central government has extensively examined the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter, and then it has come out with a bail-out package. It will be difficult for companies to pay in one go, said the DoT.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and M. R. Shah queried Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the DoT: “What is the guarantee telecom companies will pay in that time frame (decided by the Centre)?”
Justice Mishra said, “Every day, I think about how our judgement (AGR matter) has been used and misused.”
Mehta replied the government has examined the impact on the economy if telecom companies were to pay the entire amount in one go. “Seeking all telecom dues in one go might create distrust among telecom service providers if some operators shut down the operation,” Mehta argued.
He also contended that if the court objected to the time-frame developed by the Centre, then it will adversely impact the telecom sector, affect the network and ultimately the consumers will suffer. The bench sought time frame from the Centre on the payment of the AGR dues. “What if one of the companies goes into liquidation, who will pay then?” queried the bench to Mehta.
The bench asked the telecom companies to give an undertaking to deposit money in the time-frame decided by the Centre. Mehta insisted that telecom companies should give the undertaking on the payment of dues. The hearing is in progress on the matter.