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PSUs to file review petitions over Rs 3 lakh crore telecom dues: Government

“Government companies have a different clause than telecom companies,’’ Mehta told ET, when asked if non-telco PSUs would file review petitions against the order. The October 24 ruling had expanded the scope of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) on which telecom licence holders need to pay the fee to the government.

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2020, 08.18 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Non-telecom state-run companies including Gail India, Power Grid Corp and Oil India will file petitions seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s order that necessitates them to pay more than Rs 3 lakh crore in arrears on their telecom licences, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said on Thursday.

“Government companies have a different clause than telecom companies,’’ Mehta told ET, when asked if non-telco PSUs would file review petitions against the order. The October 24 ruling had expanded the scope of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) on which telecom licence holders need to pay the fee to the government.

People in the know said the companies met Mehta Wednesday evening to take a legal opinion on the matter, ahead of the January 23 deadline to clear the dues.

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Legal experts said though none of the PSUs were party to the case, which was fought between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and telecom companies, they could file review petitions since they were affected by a wider interpretation of the ruling.

The court had said all revenue, including from non-telecom services, of a telecom licensee should be accounted for calculating the AGR. This implies that companies with even minor telecom businesses, such as these PSU, may have to pay dues based on their entire revenue, with retrospective effect. The license fee is 8% of the AGR.

“While most of the licensees of DoT were not direct party to the dispute, the ratio of the judgement will be applicable on all the licensees,” communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Parliament in December.

DoT officials, in a series of meetings with the affected PSUs, have clarified that even government divisions such as ERNET (Education & Research in Computer Networking) would not get any relief.

ET on January 4 reported that the PSUs were taking legal opinion. Power minister RK Singh had written to Prasad saying the order had been misinterpreted and should not apply to Power Grid that has been asked to cough up about Rs 1.25 lakh crore dues by the DoT.

Telecom services contribute about 2% to the company’s revenue, while power transmission accounts for nearly 95%. The company had made Rs 742 crore in 2018-19 from its telecom business, based on which the licence fee should be Rs 59 crore.

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