The Supreme Court (SC) has directed telcos to file audited balance sheets for the past 10 years, come up with payment proposals and asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to look into them. The directions come on the back of telecom operators’ plea to the Supreme Court, asking the apex court to grant them a 20 year timeline to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues without any additional bank guarantee or personal guarantees.

The next hearing on the AGR case will be held in the third week of July, the apex court said.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked Vodafone Idea Limited what securities and guarantees it can pay against its AGR dues. The bench asked for personal guarantee but the telco refused. Vodafone Idea stated that it has no proposal to provide any bank guarantees as it has not made profits for several quarters. The apex court also asked for details of the operator’s assets. Earlier, Vodafone Idea had informed the top court that licences and spectrum were the best security against dues of over Rs 580 billion that the DoT has sought from the company. The telco has paid nearly Rs 70 billion so far.

Further, Bharti Airtel also refused to provide additional bank guarantees and told the Supreme Court that the DoT already has certain securities and guarantees worth Rs 108 billion. Further, Bharti Airtel in its affidavit to Supreme Court requested for a time period of 20 years to clear the AGR-related dues. It stated that Bharti Group Companies have paid substantial sums in compliance with the AGR judgment and it is fully willing to pay whatever amounts are required to be paid in accordance with the judgment. Airtel also said that that the Bharti Group Companies have paid a substantial amount of around Rs 180 billion and a further sum of Rs 80 billion to the DoT so far.

The bench also commented that operators have been making money during Covid-19.