The Department of Telecom (DoT) on Monday moved the Supreme Court, challenging the powers of telecom tribunal TDSAT that favoured exclusion of certain charges for assessing Gross Revenue and Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of private operators for calculating license fee.
DoT has submitted that TDSAT can't determine such charges, when there is already a signed agreement between the government and private operators over the calculation of license fee.
DoT has contended that PSTN charges, which operator pay to the government-owned firms BSNL and MTNL for public switched telephone network (PSTN), were removed by TDSAT and were passed on to other telecom Service Providers.
It has requested the apex court to decide whether, "TDSAT has jurisdiction to determine a particular mode of accounting system for assessment of Gross Revenue (GR) or AGR when the signed and concluded agreement binding between the parties elaborately provides for system of accounting."
On March 4, 2010, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had said that PSTN charges could not be a part of GR or AGR and had directed DoT to refund them along with 12 per cent interest.
DoT submitted, "Whether for the purpose of exclusion of PSTN related call charges actually paid to BSNL/MTNL or the roaming revenue actually passed on to other Telecom Service Providers, from the GR to arrive at the AGR has any relation to the system or mode of accounting."
Meanwhile, DoT's petition was mentioned before a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran A K Patnaik refused to stay the order of the TDSAT.
However, the bench made it clear that if its verdict goes in the favour of DoT, then the private telecom operators -Airtel and Vodafone-will have to pay the entire withstanding amount with an interest of 18 per cent per annum.
TDSAT's order came over a petition filed by Airtel and Vodafone against DoT's decision of reassessment of annual license fee for financial year 2005-06.
The dispute was on the mode of accounting system for the purpose of crediting and debiting revenue income and expenditure by a cellular operator.
As per the law telcos have to pay their annual license fee at the rate of eight per cent of their AGR. Also, spectrum charges are payable on revenue share-basis at two per cent of AGR.