AGR dues: Bharti Airtel to pay ₹10,000 crore by February 20

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Bharti Airtel, one of the defaulting telcos hauled up by the Supreme Court for not paying AGR dues, informed the Department of Telecommuciations (DoT) that it would deposit ₹10,000 crore by February 20, and promised that the remaining amount would be cleared “well before” the next date of the hearing — March 17.

The DoT began issuing of notices circle wise to the telecos. An order by the U.P. (West) Telecom Circle directed all telecom service providers to “make the payment of outstanding dues of license fee and spectrum usage charge by 14.02.2020, 11.59 p.m., positively.” 

While a representative of one of the operators confirmed the receipt of this order, it is not clear how many such orders have been sent and what is the exact amount that the operators may need to deposit by February 14 midnight.

Following the October 24, 2019 judgement of the Supreme Court in favour of the government, 15 companies owe ₹1.47 lakh crore in license fees (₹ 92,642 crore) and spectrum usage charge (₹55,054.51 crore). A large chunk of these dues is owed by Vodafone Idea (₹53,038 crore) and Bharti Airtel (nearly ₹35,586 crore excluding dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

With the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the DoT, the department also withdrew its January 23 order to not initiate any “coercive action” against telcos who fail to comply with earlier Supreme Court judgement asking companies to clear their dues by January 24. In fact, the new order directed Controller-General of Communication Accounts to take “immediate necessary action” to comply collect dues from the telecom firms.

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