Free Press Journal

Idea, Vodafone may pay DoT ‘under protest’


Mumbai : Idea Cellular and Vodafone India are likely to clear dues worth Rs 7,268 crore in the next few weeks under protest to get the final nod from the DoT to go ahead, according to sources.

The number two and three telecom service providers have decided to pay up the dues after the Department of Telecom (DoT) did not pay any heed to their requests to re-consider the dues amount for merger approval, CNBC reported quoting sources.

The telecom players are in the process of merging the Indian operations and create the largest telecom company in the country to take on new entrant Reliance Jio.

Sources also suggested that Idea and Vodafone are likely to appeal against this move in the Supreme Court.

However, Idea and Vodafone decided to go ahead with the payment to avoid any more delay to the merger, which was announced in March 2017.

Earlier, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that Vodafone and Idea Cellular have cited “some difference of opinion” on the way dues have been computed by the DoT, which is “looking into” the issue.

The DoT has asked Idea to give a bank guarantee of Rs 3,342 crore for one-time spectrum charges and Vodafone to pay Rs 3,926 crore in cash towards market price for non-auctioned airwaves held by the company.

‘Under Protest’ means payer reserves right to object to the obligation and if the telecom companies win the case, they can get a refund from the DoT.

Idea and Vodafone declined to make any comment. Idea and Vodafone have a recent legal precedent, which may give them hope on a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court.

Earlier, the telecom ministry on July 9 approved the merger of Vodafone and Idea that will create the country’s largest mobile services operator worth over $23 billion (or over Rs 1.5 lakh crore), with a 35 per cent market share and a subscriber base of around 430 million.