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AGR dues case: Entire net worth wiped out, Vodafone tells SC

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Hearing the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) case, the Supreme Court was on Monday informed by Vodafone Idea that its entire net worth had been wiped out over the last 14 years and equity of over Rs 1 lakh crore brought by the firm's promoters had also been eroded.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, contended before a three-Judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah that as per the apex court directions, his client has submitted financial documents like income tax returns, balance sheets etc, and claimed the bulk of the firm's revenue has already been spent on liabilities, taxes and dues.

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Rohatgi submitted that the company's total revenue over 10 years was nearly Rs 6.27 lakh crore, of which nearly Rs 4.95 lakh crore was spent on expenses.

Last week, Vodafone Idea paid the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) Rs 1,000 crore more as part of its dues related to AGR, taking its total payments to Rs 7,854 crore.

The DoT's total estimate on Vodafone Idea dues was Rs 58,254 crore, of which around Rs 50,000 crore still remains pending. Vodafone currently has 30 crore consumers.

Justice Mishra asked Rohatgi how the apex court could rely on the telecom company after so much losses.

“You are making decision very difficult for us… how we should secure AGR dues payable by Vodafone?” Justice Mishra asked.

Rohatgi asserted that whatever his client had earned in the last 14 years in terms of revenue had been washed away in terms of expenses. He also said that Vodafone had received Rs 8,000 crore as GST credit and this refund may be retained by the government with respect to the AGR dues.

The bench reiterated that there is no scope for self-assessment and that if it is done the top court will view it as contempt.

“It seems the DoT is allowing for re-assessment… no one has the authority to overturn our orders,” said Justice Mishra.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, replied that no reassessment is being done in connection with AGR dues, and nothing has been allowed to dilute the apex court verdict.

Justice Mishra queried: “How is Vodafone claiming that dues payable to be Rs 20,000 from the dues cited in the verdict?” Mehta assured the top court that no recalculation is being on the AGR dues.

Rohatgi insisted that the company is left with no assets, except for spectrum.

Last month, the top court had asked Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Tata Teleservices telcos to submit their respective financial statements and books of accounts for the last 10 years to examine their capacity to pay the AGR dues.

The Centre has requested the top court to allow a 20-year window to the telcos to clear the AGR dues, totalling Rs 1.47 lakh crore.

–IANS

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