SC has detached PSUs from AGR dues case: Govt

New Delhi: Bringing major relief, the Supreme Court has exempted PSUs like GAIL (India) Ltd, Oil India Ltd, PowerGrid, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd and Delhi Metro from paying AGR (adjusted gross revenue) dues sought by the DoT (Department of Telecommunications). The apex court’s October 2019 order has led to DoT seeking Rs 1.47 lakh crore in dues from telecom service providers such Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices. In the ruling, the Supreme Court had said that non-telecom revenues should be included for considering payments of government dues. Thereafter, DoT had handed over AGR dues bills to PSUs like GAIL, PowerGrid and OIL. From GAIL, DoT had sought Rs 1,83,076 crore and from PowerGrid, Rs 22,168 crore. It had sought Rs 48,000 crore from OIL, Rs 15,019 crore from Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd and Rs 5,841 crore, plus interest, from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC). The demand was challenged in a court of law by the PSUs.

AGR dues: SC says PSUs can seek relief from an apt forum

“Supreme Court has detached the public sector undertakings (PSUs) from the AGR judgment dated October 24, 2019, and directed them to seek relief from an appropriate forum,” Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. “Public sector undertakings such as GAIL, Oil India, etc represented to the Department of Telecom that the AGR judgment is not applicable on them and therefore they do not owe any dues to the Department of Telecom,” Dhotre said. “After the Supreme Court order dated February 14, 2020, the government abides by the orders of the Supreme Court,” he said.

The backdrop

In its October 24, 2019 verdict, the Supreme Court had said that non-telecom revenues earned by PSUs using spectrum or airwaves allocated by the government should also be considered for calculating non-telecom AGR dues. The DoT, therefore, had totalled all the revenues earned by a company in the last 15 years and raised a demand.