Mukesh Ambani: PIL filed in SC against DoT for not taking coercive action on AGR dues

Devina Sengupta and Samanwaya Rautray

A customers rights physique Save Consumer Rights Foundation has filed a public curiosity litigation (PIL) within the Supreme Court towards the telecom division, alleging that the federal government’s refusal to take ‘coercive motion’ towards telcos, who haven’t paid their statutory dues, is in contempt of the highest courtroom’s verdict within the adjusted gross income (AGR) case verdict.

“The present writ petition challenges the impugned direction …whereby, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has directed its Controller of Communication Accounts (CCAs) of the respective Licence Service Areas (LSAs)… not to take any coercive action against the TSPs/Licensees in case they fail to comply with the order dated 24th October 2019 passed by this… Court,” mentioned the petition copy, seen by ET.

The petition states that telcos have “willfully” “disobeyed” paying their AGR dues by the January 23 deadline. In its prayers, the buyer group needs the apex courtroom to quash the instructions of DoT, get well cash from telcos and provoke proceedings towards telcos who haven’t paid their dues, as per SC’s October 24, 2019, orders.

Interestingly, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio turned the one telco to satisfy the Supreme Court given deadline by paying its statutory dues of Rs 195 crore on Thursday. The petition states that DoT’s motion will likely be “causing huge loss to the public exchequer, which would directly affect the economic rights of the public at large”.

The petition comes on the again of DoT directing its circle workplaces on Thursday that no “coercive “ motion be taken towards likes of Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices and others who needed to pay the federal government their AGR by January 23, however haven’t met the deadline.

DoT had restrained itself for the reason that apex courtroom will likely be listening to the modification plea of the affected telcos within the coming week .

Jio rivals Vodafone Idea, with dues of over Rs53,000 crore, Bharti Airtel, with dues of over Rs35,500 crore and Tata Teleservices, with dues of almost Rs14,000 crore, are the worst affected by the SC verdict.

According to analysts, if loss-making Vodafone Idea was to be compelled to pay up the whole dues at one go, it will be compelled to close down. In such a state of affairs, Jio and Airtel will profit most from a personal sector duopoly out there.

In its petition, Save Consumer Rights Foundation known as itself an organization restricted by shares, not for revenue underneath part eight of the businesses Act, 2013 established on April 2018 that conducts works with sure nationwide co-operatives by conducting progammes to make individuals conscious of their rights as a shopper. It mentioned it additionally represents customers earlier than National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and proposes to file actual property issues in numerous boards, mentioned the group in its petition.

The shopper physique mentioned DoT may have encashed financial institution ensures of telcos that resides with it . “The Department of Telecommunications has monetary in addition to efficiency financial institution ensures from these operators which may be encashed for non-payment of any due. Subsequently motion for cancellation of license is to be initiated as per the provisions of the license,” acknowledged the petition .

It all began when in October 2019, an SC verdict widened the definition of AGR to incorporate non-core gadgets. This meant 15 telcos needed to pay further licence charges, spectrum utilization costs (SUC), curiosity and penalty dues of greater than Rs 1.47 lakh crore by January 23. Licence charges and SUC are calculated on the premise of AGR.

Since the Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have moved apex courtroom on evaluate petitions however that was dismissed . Next step was after they filed for modification attraction towards the deadline which is scheduled for listening to in coming week.

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Tarun Banerjee

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