On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard the AGR (adjusted gross revenue) case, and the government's application to allow telcos to spread the payment of their dues over 20 years or less. The apex court's verdict was that its order was clear and no further objections would be allowed against payable dues.
"We cannot allow encroachment of SC judgment. If we will allow these pleas, SC will be a party to the fraud. We say with all responsibility that we cannot allow reopening," the court said.
The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also questioned the Solicitor General on self-assessments performed by telecom operators without permission of the court, calling it a contempt of court.
SC said that it was a matter of public money that has gone unpaid for 20 years and that the telcos were trying to influence public opinion through the media. "We do not appreciate the actions of telecom companies, we will hold MDs personally accountable, the court said.
The government has so far received part payment of about Rs 25,900 crore from telecom operators towards statutory dues in compliance with the Supreme Court's order dated 24 October 2019, said the minister of state for communications Sanjay Dhotre in a recent written reply to the Lok Sabha.
On Monday, Vodafone Idea said that it has cleared the principal amount towards AGR dues Rs 3,354 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Bharti Airtel says that it has paid Rs 18,000 crore against Rs 25,000 crore claimed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that there is no reassessment of dues happening and that only extension of time is sought.
The Supreme Court will hear on the AGR case after two weeks to consider the plea filed by the Solicitor General seeking reasonable time.
Shares of Vodafone Idea fell as much as 35.15 percent while Bharti Infratel declined as much as 13.68 percent. Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, was trading with 2 percent gains crisis for Vodafone Idea could mean a possible duopoly in the telecom business.