SC treats Vodafone Idea the way company treats its consumers; denies plea seeking no coercive action

The Supreme Court on Friday slammed mobile service operators and the department of telecommunications (DoT) for failing to comply with its verdict, which mandated telecom companies to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of over Rs 1 trillion to the DoT by January 23.

While Bharti Airtel deposited Rs 10,000 crore as part of its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to accept Vodafone Idea's proposal to pay Rs 2,500 crore by the end of the day and Rs 1,000 crore by Friday against AGR dues. It also did not accept senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi's proposal that no coercive action be taken against it.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra declined to accept the proposal given by Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone, after he mentioned the matter. He also said the bank guarantee deposited with the government by Vodafone should also not be encashed.

Earlier on February 15, the company has said said in an exchange filing that they were currently assessing the AGR dues and would be paying this "in the next few days".

"We wish to inform that post the hearing yesterday, the company has received letters from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) directing immediate payment," Vodafone Idea said.

The company added that their ability to "continue as a going concern" was dependent on a "positive outcome of the application for modification of the Supplementary Order".

The regulatory filing did not make any mention of how the company plans to raise the money.

The company's comments also raises doubts over its long term ability to survive the huge losses and the payment of such a large amount of dues.

Vodafone Idea's total AGR dues are estimated at Rs 53,038 crore which include Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee.

The company incurred over Rs 6,000 crore in Q3 losses and is also saddled with Rs 1.20 lakh crore debt, declining customer base and revenues.

Chairman K.M. Birla has sounded out multiple times that if the company doesn't get any relief from government it will have to look at shutting operations.

One of the parents of VIL -- UK-based Vodafone has already ruled out any equity infusion in VIL.

(With inputs from agencies)

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