The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the telecom companies 10 years to repay Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues which run into about Rs 1.6 lakh crore.
While reducing the time period, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra issued following directions: The telecom firms will have to pay 10 per cent of dues by 2021 due to Covid-19 and the rest can be paid in instalments by March 31, 2031.
In the event of default, the company will be punishable for contempt of court, the bench said.
On the point as to whether spectrum can be sold by the telecom companies facing proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the bench asked the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to decide whether spectrum can be subject matter of resolution process.
The top court had in October 2019 delivered the verdict on the AGR issue for calculating government dues of telecom companies, such as Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices, as licence fee and spectrum usage charges.
Later, the department of telecommunications (DoT) had in March this year moved a plea seeking permission for staggered payment in a time period of nearly 20 years for the telecom companies.
On August 21, the top court had directed the DoT to apprise it the basis of spectrum sharing done by telecom companies and how much is the liability of the sharers.
The top court asked the DoT secretary to file a specific affidavit apprising it about who was using the spectrum from the date of grant of license and from which date the respective sharing of spectrum has taken place.
The Centre had earlier told the top court there was a difference of opinion between two of its ministers (DoT and the ministry of corporate affairs) on the issue of sale of spectrum.