AGR case: Don’t even have enough money to pay our employees, Vodafone tells SC
New Delhi: Vodafone Idea on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the total demand of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues it faces is Rs 50,000 crore, plus the interest and the penalty, but currently, the telecom company does not even have enough money to pay salaries to its employees and meet its expenses.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, told a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah, that: “Total demand of Rs 50,000 crore plus interest plus interest, penalty we can’t give… we don’t have enough money even to pay to our employees and meet our expenses.”
Rohatgi also argued before the bench that the telecom company is also unable to give any bank guarantee. According to the Centre’s calculation, Vodafone Idea owes nearly Rs 53,000 crore, which includes interests and penalties for non-payment of statutory dues.
During the hearing, Rohatgi contended before the bench that the dues are extremely huge and urged the apex court to allow him to file an affidavit in three or four days.
The bench asked the telecom operators, including Vodafone Idea, to file their response, within five days, regarding the roadmap to clear the AGR dues.
Vodafone’s counsel contended before the bench that it is not possible to give bank guarantee for Rs 50,000 crore AGR dues, but says that its spectrum and license could be taken as security.
“Licences and spectrums were separately auctioned. We purchased them for thousands of crores. Intrinsic value of the spectrum will be best security.
“Licenses can be extended, spectrum (is) very valuable. Spectrum best security for telcos to pay dues,” he added.
At the end of the hearing, the apex court gave some relief to the telecom companies, as it agreed to consider a plea to grant more time to them to clear their dues on AGR charges. The top court, however, made it clear that telecom companies must clear the dues which are around Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on June 18.