The Centre, asked today if Reliance Jio should be held liable for dues if it is earning revenue through shared spectrum, told the Supreme Court that it would accept any decision the judges made for the recovery of AGR dues. In the last hearing, the court had asked why Reliance Jio, which is using RCom’s spectrum under a spectrum-sharing agreement, should not be paying RCom’s AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues.
This issue came up when the court was hearing the ailing telecoms on whether spectrum can be sold under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code proceedings.
Jio, represented by senior advocate Harish Salve, told the court that it is not involved in any IBC proceedings and is not acquiring RCom spectrum.
RCom has told the Supreme Court about the plan of UV ARC (UV Asset Reconstruction Company) to take over RCom, rebuild the enterprise business and monetize assets by selling assets such as spectrum and machinery.
On July 20, the top court made it clear it will not hear “even for a second” the arguments on reassessment or re-calculation of the AGR related dues of telecom companies which run into about ₹ 1.6 lakh crore.
In a subsequent hearing, it also asked the telecom department how it plans to recover the AGR-related dues from companies facing insolvency proceedings and whether spectrum given to these companies can be sold.
The telecom department has told the court that spectrum is owned by the nation, held in trust by the government and cannot be sold. “Telecoms don’t own spectrum, contract allows only its use,” the department said. Spectrum cannot be subjected to IBC proceedings either, it said.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah asked the counsels for Reliance Jio and RCom to place their spectrum sharing agreements on record.
“We have directed them (parties) to place on record the information relating to Agreement entered into with respect to using of spectrum by the respective parties. In the case of RCOM, its spectrum of 800 MAZ is being used by Reliance Jio from 2016. Let the agreement entered into between the parties be placed on record,” the bench said in its order.
The next hearing will be held tomorrow.