On Thursday (June 16, 2020), the Centre informed the Supreme Court that the Department of Telecommunications has decided to withdraw the 96% of the Rs. 4 lakh crore demand raised against non-telecom PSUs like GAIL based on the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) given by the Apex body in its October 2019 judgment.
Senior Advocate Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India told a bench consisting of Justice Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer, and M R Shah that “ We have decided since they are not in the business of providing teleservices to the general public, we are withdrawing the dues from these PSUs. 96% demand now stands withdrawn.
The SG further explained that the DoT has filed an affidavit explaining the reason for raising the demand of AGR related dues against the PSUs.
On the last hearing, the SC had expressed displeasure on the Center raising demands at the PSUs on the basis of the October 2019 verdict in the case pertaining to AGR dues of telecom companies. “This is an outright misuse of our verdict. You are making a demand of over Rs. 4 lac crores! This is wholly and totally impermissible!", said Justice Mishra had remarked.
"They don't provide services like other telcos for commercial exploitation. Imposing AGR dues on PSUs may not be in public interest", he had added.
The DoT further sought time of the bench, which was hearing the matter through videoconferencing, to respond to the affidavits filed by the telecom companies such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd, on payment of AGR dues by them.
On October 24, 2019, the Apex Court had ruled out that the statutory dues need to be calculated by including non-telecom revenues in AGR of telcos.