SC raps DoT bid to raise dues against PSUs by misusing AGR order
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the Department of Telecommunication for raising Rs 4 lakh crore demand from PSUs by misusing the last year's judgement on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and threatened to begin contempt proceedings against the officers concerned.
A Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah, said its judgement was silent on the public sector companies, and told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the DoT, the telecom dues demands against PSUs must be withdrawn.
When Mehta said PSUs held telecom spectrum, the Bench asked Mehta how the government used the AGR judgement to devise a formula to raise demands from PSUs when the judgement didn't deal with the issue.
The Bench said why demands were made only after the verdict (AGR judgement in October 2019).
The court asked Mehta whether he advised the government to withdraw demands against PSUs and said, "Demands raised against PSUs were wholly impermissible".
Mehta said PSUs formed a class in themselves, representing public functions, and they discharged government functions but were different from the private sector. PSUs were not providing mobile services like other telecom providers for commercial exploitation, and they needed to be treated differently than private telecom service providers. "Kindly consider giving PSUs different treatment from that of telecom companies, even though they hold spectrum," Mehta submitted.
On this, the Bench said, "We would request you to withdraw this (demand on PSUs) otherwise we will take strict action against them (DoT officials) for misusing our judgement."
"We want them to file an affidavit how this could be done by them (DoT officer)? We will punish them! We will punish them!" said the Bench.