NEW DELHI: In a big relief to many PSUs which were directed by the
to pay over Rs 4 lakh crore on the basis of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Adjusted Gross Revenue, the court on Thursday said the demand is not correct and should be withdrawn while also indicating that it may consider offering relief to telecom companies by giving them some time to clear dues of Rs 1.69 lakh crore.
The court slammed the department of telecom for raising the demand with PSUs and threatened to initiate contempt proceedings to pu nish the officials concerned for misusing its order. It directed the department to reconsider its decision within three days.
The Supreme Court, however, softened its stand against private telecom operators and agreed to hear their plea, which is also supported by the Centre, to provide a reasonable time-frame to deposit their dues. It sought proposals from the Centre and telecom companies on how to ensure that the amount is paid by them.
Allowing a staggered payment plan could bring muchneeded relief to many telecom firms and their lakhs of employees who are facing uncertainties due to financial problems. But
had to face the ire of the apex court for raising the demand on AGR from PSUs, including GAIL, Oil India and Power Grid Corporation under the garb of its verdict of October last year.
The PSUs were also granted telecom licence by DoT but it was for internal use and not for commercial purposes. Abench of Justices Arun Mishra, S
and MR Shah said its verdict was not for PSUs which stand at a different footing in comparison to private firms.
“How the formula was devised on PSUs on the basis of our judgment. Our judgment was silent on PSUs. Who did it and under what authority. How it has been done by you,” the bench asked
SG Tushar Mehta
appearing for the department.
Mehta said the demand was raised as per the licensing conditions of PSUs, which in many cases were similar to private firms. But the bench was not convinced and said, “You withdraw it immediately or we will take strict action and punish the officials for contempt of court. It is not permissible. They are misusing our order.”