Shortly after Bharti Airtel approached the Supreme Court to get the the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to revise its Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues, Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) did the same, the Economic Times reports. Vi reportedly told the court that the government has incorrectly assessed interest rates; the company reportedly estimates its total liability as ₹21,533 crore, whereas the DoT has slapped a bill of ₹58,400 crore on the company, some of which Vi has paid, bringing its liability (from the government’s viewpoint) to ₹5o,400 crore.
If Vi’s internal estimate prevailed, the company would have a burden of over ₹36,000 crore plus interest lifted from its shoulders. However, it’s not clear if the company’s plea at the Supreme Court — which seem to allege something as basic as arithmetic errors — would result in the DoT’s estimate matching that of the telco’s. We have reached out to Vi for comment.
Airtel’s approach certainly appears to have the potential to save it much revenue, assuming its arguments that these calculations are mistaken gains some currency in court. “It is submitted that the impact of such errors results in significant increase in the amounts being claimed by the Respondent, as for every Re. 1 increase in the principal amount, the levy of interest, penalty and interest on penalty results in the amount being claimed by the Respondent increasing by up to Rs. 8/-, depending on the year to which it pertains,” the company said in its earlier application, per LiveLaw.
The government may be inclined to defend its calculations, as these long-pending dues would represent a significant source of fiscal income from the telecom industry in the coming years.