Read Order: Union of India vs. Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India & Ors 

LE Staff

New Delhi, July 24, 2021: Highlighting that the dispute relating to AGR dues had remained pending in courts for a very long period of time, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the AGR dues payable by Telecom Service Providers cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation.

The Larger Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice M.R. Shah, observed that the relief sought by the Applicants in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation which would amount to the AGR dues, as specified in the order of the apex court dated July 20, 2020, being altered. 

The Top Court reiterated that no telecom operator shall raise any dispute in respect of the demand raised by the Department of Telecommunications pertaining to AGR dues, based on the judgment of the Supreme Court dated October 24, 2019. 

Clearly prohibiting any reassessment of the AGR dues payable by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), the Apex Court strongly said that calculation errors cannot be rectified by the Union of India. 

The counsel for the Applicant, Mukul Rohatgi, submitted that scrutiny of the accounts revealed that certain arithmetical errors have arisen due to inadvertence on the part of the Department of Telecommunications while computing these dues. 

It was also made clear that there is no intention on the part of the Applicants to reopen the issues that have already been decided by the SC in its judgment dated September 1, 2020 in the guise of these applications for clarification/modification.

Rohatgi referred to a note filed on behalf of the Applicant in M.A. No.115 of 2021 to demonstrate certain glaring errors in the demand raised by the Union of India wherein amounts that have already been paid by the Applicant were not taken into account for computing outstanding AGR dues. 

Opposing the same, Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for another applicant, submitted that errors committed in computation of AGR dues of the Applicant arose due to double counting of some revenue items, payments made but not accounted for and accrued deductions not being given effect to. 

The counsels were in unison in submitting that the Applicants are not seeking any positive direction, except to permit the Union of India to verify their accounts and rectify the defects in computation of AGR dues, if any. 

“Though these Applications appear to be innocuous at first blush, the end result of the relief sought by the Applicants in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation which would amount to the AGR dues, as specified in the order of this Court dated July 20, 2020, being altered,” said the Bench. 

Clearly pointing out that as per the previous order of the SC on July 20, 2020, the Bench said there is no scope for any recalculation/re-computation of AGR dues. 

The Bench said it was “at pains to emphasize, at the cost of repetition, that the AGR dues payable by TSPs cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation”. 

Accordingly, the Apex Court dismissed the present application for altering the AGR dues of the TSPs. 

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