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Supreme Court directs Telecom Companies to deposit AGR dues by March 17

Supreme Court on Friday tore into the government and the telecom companies for not abiding by the court order directing the recovery of AGR dues worth Rs 1.47 lakh crore from the companies.

The SC has earlier directed that all AGR related dues had to be paid by January 23.

The court on Friday demanded that the telecom department (DoT) withdraw its executive order overriding the court order to recover the dues.

The bench led by Arun Mishra said that “These companies haven’t paid anything since 20 years by way of AGR dues”.

It was Mishra’s bench which had passed the AGR order on October 24 and since then appeals by telcos have been rejected and was followed by modification plea filed by Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Teleservices.

“A review was dismissed. There is no stay,” Mishra said. “These companies better pay sizeable amounts to show their bona fides by the end of the day,” he added.

The SC on Friday also issued contempt notices against DoT officer for issuing such an order to the attorney generals office. The next date of hearing is March 17.

“There is no respect for the court,” the bench said asking the government to immediately withdraw the DoT order. The department on 23 January had asked its circle officers not to take any action against telcos who did not pay their AGR dues.”

The latest directions means that Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel may need to pay their respective dues of over Rs53,000 crore and Rs35,500 crore or at least a large part of it. Vodafone Idea has said it will collapse without any relief from the SC.

The bench also demanded to know from the managing directors and directors of the telecom companies why they should not face contempt for not abiding by the court order.

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