The Supreme Court has directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to refrain from invoking bank guarantees of Bharti Airtel for a period of three weeks over non-payment of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of defunct Videocon Telecommunications Limited (VTL).

Earlier, on August 17, 2021, the DoT had issued a demand notice asking Bharti Airtel to clear VTL’s AGR dues worth Rs 13.76 billion within a week’s time or have the bank guarantees invoked. Following this, Airtel filed a plea in the court stating that VTL’s dues are not payable by it.

However, the apex court has rejected Airtel’s plea and a three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao permitted Bharti Airtel to move to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) for relief over the issue.

Bharti Airtel had acquired the rights to use spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band in six circles from Videocon in 2016.