The two most affected telcos had previously pointed out in the top court anomalies in the DoT’s calculations, and had submitted their own self assessments, which put the dues at substantially lower than the government’s calculated amounts. The court though had scrapped all the reassessments and upheld DoT’s calculations, which put Vi’s AGR dues at over Rs 58,400 crore and around Rs 44,000 crore for Airtel.
In their latest letters to the DoT, Airtel, which has paid over Rs 18,004 crore of its dues, and Vodafone Idea, which has paid Rs 7,854 crore, appear to be once again focussing on the government’s calculations, without explicitly seeking a reassessment. “Vi and Airtel have informed DoT that they need to know the AGR dues and asked the government to explain the method used to arrive at the due amount. So far, there has been no response from the government,” said a senior industry executive aware of the development.
The dispute over the amount adds to the existing differences between the two sides on the timeline for the first instalment. While Airtel and Vodafone Idea believe that since they have already paid over 10% of their total dues – as mandated by the Supreme Court order of September 1 – their first instalment falls due by March 2022. But DoT believes the two carriers need to pay 10% of the balance dues by March 31, 2021. “The AGR matter will be taken up at the end of the fiscal… DoT may approach (the court) to report on how much they have recovered,” said a government official. The official added that there is no further need for the DoT to offer any clarification on the amounts, as DoT’s calculated amounts had been accepted by the apex court.
The two telcos did not respond to ET’s queries. Post Supreme Court’s October 24, 2019 order, which widened the definition of AGR to include non-core items, Airtel and Vi had submitted their selfassessed AGR due amounts at around Rs 13,004 crore and Rs 21,533 crore, respectively, which was way less than what DoT had estimated.