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SC Questions Mukesh’s Jio usage of Anil’s 4G spectrum of Reliance Communications

According to the DOT calculations, Bharti Airtel owes Rs 43,780 crore of AGR dues, of which the company has paid Rs 18,004 crore, so the balance is Rs 25,976 crore.
 
Vodafone Idea has so far paid Rs 7,854 crore of its total Rs 50,399 crore dues and Tata Teleservices has paid about Rs 4,197 crore and the balance amount due is about Rs 12,601 crore.
 
In an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd (SSTL) had said that RCom is liable to pay its AGR dues.
 
The Department of Telecommunications has evaluated a combined AGR liability of Rs 25,194.58 crore for Reliance Communications and Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd (SSTL) as on March 6,2020.
 
Earlier The apex court had asked the private telecom companies including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea to come out with a “reasonable payment plan”, make some payment to “show their bona fide” and file their books of accounts for the last 10 years.
 
In the above circumstances Supreme Court of India on Friday sought details from Reliance Jio using the spectrum that were allotted Reliance Communications in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter.
 
SC has sought spectrum sharing details of all the bankrupt entities and observed that Reliance Jio has been using RCom spectrum for the last four years.
 
It has directed the Union government, Reliance Jio and Reliance Communications’ Resolution Professional to produce necessary documents to ascertain the AGR liabilities of RCom.
 
“We have directed them to place on record the information relating to Agreement entered into with respect to using of spectrum by the respective parties,” SC said in its order dated August 14, 2020.
 
SC soughts details from RCom regarding its 4G liberalised spectrum in 800MHz being used by Reliance Jio from 2016.
 
The apex court issued a similar direction to other companies which are under insolvency, including Aircel Limited, Aircel Cellular Limited and Dishnet Wireless Limited and Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. to specify who is using the spectrum an arrangement along with documents be placed on record.
 
The apex court adjourned the next hearing for the case on August 17.
 
Jio informed the apex court that as per spectrum sharing guidelines, the users are required to pay only spectrum usage charge.
 
RCom’s 4G liberalised spectrum in 800MHz band is being shared by Reliance Jio and RCom (2G, 3G and 4G spectrum in 1800MHz band of RCom is not being shared) from April 2016.
 
It is learnt that the quantum of RCom spectrum shared with Jio is around 38% of total spectrum currently held by RCom.
 
RCom continues to hold spectrum in 900 MHz band, 1800 MHz band and 2100 MHz, which is not share with Jio.
 
Sources said that the AGR dues of RCom are in no manner connected with this shared spectrum and AGR has been paid by both RCom and Jio on the revenue generated from the shared spectrum.
 
On August 10, the Supreme Court had observed that the Union government should prepare a plan to recover AGR dues from bankrupt telecom operators including Reliance Communications Ltd.
 
The application for intervention is being filed by State Bank of India on behalf of Committee of Creditors of Reliance Communications seeking to protect its rights and interest.
 
Representing RCom, the State Bank of India, in its appeal, said that the amount payable under a resolution plan shall be paid in priority to operational creditors over financial creditors.
 
The Committee of Creditors of RCom include BOB, Axis Bank, UCO Bank, Punjab National Bank, HDFC and LIC.
Therefore, the interests of the DoT, an Operational Creditor are adequately protected in terms of the IBC and the Regulations made there under.
 
This appeal comes after the Supreme Court said it would examine the AGR dues of the company that have gone into bankruptcy.
 
Since the dues are huge, we propose to examine the bonafides of the initiation of the proceedings under the IBC, SC had said in its order dated July 20, 2020.
 
Of the total liability Rs 222.1 crore belongs to the Indo-Russian joint venture that merged into RCom in 2017. In February 2019, RCom filed for insolvency.
 
On July 20, the apex court had reserved its order on allowing a staggered payment schedule to the telcos for submitting their AGR dues.
 
The apex court had said that the veracity of the actions of Reliance Communications, Aircel, Sistema Shyam and Videocon would be examined.
Splco Reporter
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