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SC pulls up Centre, telecom cos for altering AGR order

Source: PTI
March 18, 2020 14:24 IST
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre and telecom companies for doing self-assessment or reassessment of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues fixed by the apex court in its verdict given on October 24 last year. 

The top court, which was also anguished by frequently published newspaper articles on the AGR issue, said all managing directors of telecom companies will be personally responsible and held for contempt of court for any such future write-ups hiding the truth. 

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S A Nazeer and Justice M R Shah refused to take up the Centre's plea for allowing telecom companies to pay AGR dues in 20 years, saying the application will be taken up after two weeks. 

 

"The time frame of 20 years is unreasonable. The telecom companies have to clear all dues mentioned in the judgment," the bench said, adding it had settled all AGR dues after hearing telecom companies and the government then had fought tooth and nail for interests and penalties. 

The bench said it will summon the secretary and desk officer of the department of telecommunications who permitted telecom companies to do self-assessment of AGR dues. 

"Exercise of self-assessment of AGR dues by telecom companies cannot be permitted even in wildest dreams," it said. 

The court said serious fraud was being committed by telecom companies by asserting to do self-assessment of AGR dues and that its judgment was final and to be followed in letter and spirit. 

"We will be party to fraud if we allow self-assessment of AGR dues by telecom companies," the bench said, adding, it cannot permit encroachment of its powers by allowing self-assessment. 

The court also said that newspaper articles will not be able to influence its decision and it will draw contempt proceedings against the managing directors of telecom companies if they publish "fake news" against court on payment of AGR dues. 

"Any future newspaper article hiding the truth from the public on telecom case will make MDs of telecos personally responsible," the bench said. 

The apex court had on October 24 last year ruled that the statutory dues need to be calculated by including non-telecom revenues in AGR of telecom companies. It had upheld the AGR definition formulated by the DoT and termed "frivolous" the nature of objections raised by the telecom service providers.

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