The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed petitions filed by telecom firms such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea seeking a review of its earlier order that allowed the government to collect Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues by January 23, PTI reported. The court said it did not find any “justifiable reason” to entertain the petitions.
In October, the Supreme Court had asked telecom operators to pay tax on their non-core revenues over and above the spectrum usage charges and licence fees. It upheld the Centre’s broader definition of revenue, based on which the government calculates levies on telecom operators. In its order, the top court excluded revenue from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend and interest income in the reporting of financial results. The court rejected the definition of adjusted gross revenue proposed by telecom operators.
Airtel and Vodafone Idea are facing a combined liability of Rs 82,000 crore following the Supreme Court ruling.
“Having perused the review petitions and the connected papers with meticulous care, we do not find any justifiable reason to entertain [them]. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah said. They also dismissed the application for an open court hearing.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told Parliament in November that the telecom companies owe Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and Rs 55,054 crore in spectrum usage charges.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecommunications said Airtel owed the government Rs 21,682.13 crore as licence fee and Vodafone owed Rs 19,823.71 crore. Reliance Communications owed Rs 16,456.47 crore, BSNL owed Rs 2,098.72 crore and MTNL Rs 2,537.48 crore.