oppn parties No Respite For Telecom Companies, Supreme Court Says Non-Payment Would Amount To Contempt

News Snippets

  • India's sovereign green bonds were oversubscribed four times as the RBI received 266 bids worth Rs 32892cr agaisnt the target of Rs 8000cr
  • Google tweaks its Android and India app store policy to allow manufacturers and users to choose certain things instead of compulsorily using Google apps after the CCI order and fine for unfairly dominating the market
  • Former US secretary of state calls former Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj a "goofback" and a "hinterland political hack". MEA S Jaishankar slams him
  • Jamia screening of BBC documentary on Gujarat riots cancelled after the university was turned into a fortress and later 13 students were detained by the police
  • Supreme Court grants conditional interim bail for eight weeks to Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra. The bail can be further extended based on his conduct. He was asked to stay outside Delhi-NCR and UP and surrender his passport
  • After the JNU administration tried to thwart the students from screening the BBC documentary on the Gujarat riots and PM Modi, now students of Presidency and Jadavpur universities in Kolkata have decided to screen it 5 times next week
  • While a US research frim Hindenburg says its analysis found the Adani group overleveraged and claimed that its bubble will burst very soon and that sent the price of group companies crashing (Adani companies lost a combined Rs 55000cr), Adani group said the report was 'baseless' and 'malicious'
  • This time Enforcement Directorate arrests TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale under PMLA for money laundering
  • Padma awards announced on Republic Day: Mulayam Singh Yadav, architect Balkrishna Doshi and ORS pioneer Dilip Mahalanobis get Padma Bibhushan posthumously, Padma Bhushan ius awarded to Kumar Mangalam Birla and 8 others and 91 get Padma Shri
  • Stocks fall big time on Wednesday on F&O expiry, finalncial and banks take big hit: Sensex tumbles 773 points to 60205 and Nifty 226 points to 17892 even as the market volatility meter shoots up by 8.51%
  • World Cup hockey: Germany stun England 4-3 to reach semifinals; Netherlands beat Korea 5-1 to enter last four
  • Australian Open: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna reach the finals
  • Suryakumar Yadav is named ICC Cricketer of the Year 2022 and Renuka Singh gets the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2022 award
  • BCCI gets a whopping Rs 4670cr in the auctions for the 5 teams in WIPL or as it will be known now, WPL. Adani Sportline gets Ahmedabad for Rs 1289cr while Mumbai Indians get Mumbai for 913cr
  • Calcutta HC overturns the hookah bar ban in Kolkata by saying that it is not an illegal trade
India Commentary Wishes A Happy Republic Day To All Its Readers /////// India Commentary Wishes A Happy Basant Panchami And Saraswati Puja To All Its Readers
oppn parties
No Respite For Telecom Companies, Supreme Court Says Non-Payment Would Amount To Contempt

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-03-19 11:40:32

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

The Supreme Court bench hearing the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case flew into a rage when the government filed a plea for a reassessment of dues and granting the telcos a twenty-year window to make staggered payments. The judges were categorical in saying that there was no question of looking at any "self-assessment" by the telecom companies as that amounts to a fraud on the nation. They were of the view that when the government had estimated the dues and the same were audited and billed to the telcos and consequently approved as correct and in order by the Supreme Court, there was no need for a reassessment. In fact, the court said that "we will be party to fraud if we allow self-assessment of AGR dues by telecom companies" and it "cannot be permitted in the wildest dreams".

When the AGR case was proceeding in the Supreme Court, the government fought tooth and nail to realize what it had billed as dues to the telcos. It did not concede an inch and countered all arguments put forward by the companies with an inflexible attitude. It knew then too that with the highest spectrum fees and lowest rates for services in the world, the telcos were not in a position to pay the AGR along with penalties and interest. Yet, it chose to ignore all petitions by the companies and the considered opinion of experts and went ahead with its arguments based solely on the initial (flawed, for it added "other income" to the core income from telecom business in calculating the AGR) contract it had signed with the telecom companies.

After the Supreme Court order and especially after Vodafone-Idea clearly said that it was in no position to pay the Rs 58000cr demanded from it and will have to wind up its business in India, the government started thinking of a bailout package. But it seems it is too late for that. The ideal time was when the telcos had approached it when the case was being heard in the Supreme Court. The government could have then come to an understanding where the telcos could have been made to pay the actual assessed amount with a token penalty and some interest. That would have settled the matter without putting stress on the companies and not causing much loss to the exchequer.

But now, after the dues have been certified by the Supreme Court, that time has passed. The court was right in saying that any deviation from its order would amount to contempt of court and if that happens, the court would be constrained to call the managing directors of each of the companies and send them to jail directly from the court. It was also critical of the media for publishing articles questioning the court's previous order. It said that the telcos were trying to influence the court via the media. It is a muddle created solely by the inflexible attitude displayed by the government earlier and it will have to think out of the box to set it right without angering the court or causing contempt.