Bharti Airtel Ltd shares dropped as much as 5%, while those of Vodafone Idea Ltd plummeted over 44% after the Supreme Court denied providing any further relief to telecom companies in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) case.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that no further objections to its orders would be allowed against payable AGR dues. It further stated that no exercise of self-assessment can be done by telcos regarding the quantum of payments.
“All dues as per our judgement will have to be paid, including interest and penalty. The Solicitor General had filed a plea seeking reasonable time, we will consider this plea on the next date,” the order stated.
The Supreme Court will hear the case next after two weeks. The bench is led by Justice Mishra, with the other two judges being Justices S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah. This is the same bench that had upheld the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT’s) definition of AGR in its verdict on October 24 2019 and ordered telcos to clear dues of Rs 1.47 lakh crore. Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices owed the highest amounts to DoT.
The order further said that the court does “not appreciate telcos’ actions and will hold MDs personally accountable”.
“Won’t tolerate this. Companies want to hoodwink us. If required we will summon the MDs of all the telcos. Telcos are the usurpers of public money and don’t even want to pay a fraction of revenue earned,” Justice Mishra said.
The Supreme Court also said that it would summon DoT officials responsible for self-assessment. “We would neither spare DoT, nor telecom companies,” it said.
At 12:21 pm, shares of Bharti Airtel were trading at Rs 444.75, down 2.2%, while those of Vodafone Idea were down 30% to Rs 3.40.