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ISPAI seeks legal view on DoT’s demand for statutory dues in SC judgment on AGR: Report

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Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) is seeking legal opinion on the issue of applicability of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) for internet service providers (ISPs), as per the PTI report. ISPAI said the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has unnecessarily imposed the order on ISPs and has informed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) about the matter, the report said.

Earlier this month, DoT had sent letters to ISPAI to inform its members to make payment as per the SC order and further submit the required documents to ensure compliance within the stipulated timeframe, the report said. MediaNama has reached out to ISPAI for comment. According to Business Standard, DoT had sent letters to ISPs in the Kerala circle to submit the audited AGR documents up to 2018-2019 by November 28. DoT will soon start sending the letters across the country for compliance of the SC order on AGR and payment dues, the report said.

ISPAI told the PMO that the SC judgment would lead to a huge financial crisis in many companies especially small and medium ISPs spread across the country in rural areas, the report said. They argued that the implementation of SC order on licensees, who are not even parties in dispute before the telecom tribunal and SC, would not be desirable.

SC’s ruling on AGR

The Supreme Court last month upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-telecommunication business in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies, reported PTI. The Telecom Ministry has also asserted that “SC’s ruling applies to any company that utilises radio waves and has a telecom license”, which makes it applicable for the ISPs as well, the PTI report said. The SC had also ordered telecom companies to include the non-core income for calculation of AGR, and asked them to pay Rs 92,640 crores to the centre, which includes disputed demand, interest and penalty.

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