Today, after being reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecommunication ordered all the telecom companies present in India to clear the AGR dues by midnight today. To understand this whole matter, first of all you have to understand what AGR due fee is.
What is AGR?
AGR is actually the usage and licensing fee that the Telecom Ministry of India takes from telecom companies. So it was before 2005 when the Indian Telecom Department changed the definition of AGR. Telecom companies said that AGR should be calculated only on the basis of revenue from telecom services, while on the other hand, the government said that AGR should be calculated on the basis of total revenue of a telecom company.
Cellular Operators Association of India Challenged Definition of AGR
The definition of the AGR given by the government was challenged by the Cellular Operators Association of India in 2005, but the Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal then recognized the government’s decision as valid. Then the telecom companies challenged the definition of AGR given by the government in the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court also accepted the government definition as correct.
The Supreme Court of India ordered all Telecom Companies to pay the AGR due fee with 3 month
On 24 October, 2019, the Supreme Court ordered all the telecom companies to clear the AGR dues within three months (i.e. till 23 January 2020), but till now the telecom companies have’nt paid the AGR dues to the government. Today, the Supreme Court strongly reprimanded the government and telecom companies in this case.
The government asked the senior officials of the Department of Telecom to answer why contempt action should not be taken against them. Apart from that, the Supreme Court asked the senior officers of the Department of Telecommunications and the CMD of all the telecom companies to appear in the court on March 17 to hear the proceedings in the contempt case.
Talking about the outstanding amount of AGR, Telecom companies have to pay a total of Rs. 1.47 lakh crore out of which Airtel has to pay the highest amount of Rs 21,682.13 crore, while Vodafone has to pay Rs. 19,823.71 crore and Reliance Communications Rs. 16,456.47 crore. BSNL will have to pay the least Rs. 2,098.72 crore AGR due fee.