Anoushka Mehta

Anoushka Mehta is currently a penultimate year law student (B.A., LL.B) (Hons.) at Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai. She is a reviewer at Economic & Political Weekly and is also pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. She aims to write on legal issues alongside working in the area of corporate law.

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Tell us whether spectrum can be sold or not: SC in the AGR Case

SC asks Solicitor General Tushar Mehta whether the telecom spectrum can be sold by the Telecom companies for the AGR dues; next hearing of the matter on 14th August.

The Supreme Court of India yesterday asked the Centre about whether telecom spectrum can be sold/auctioned by the telecom companies undergoing proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). In the hearing, the court contemplated the issues related to the initiation of insolvency proceedings under the IBC against various telecom companies’ vis-a-vis their outstanding liabilities.

The Bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer, and MR Shah asked this question when it was hearing the matter pertaining to the much talked about payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues by telecom companies. The Court considered the issue of bona fide Reliance Communications, Aircel and Videocon in the insolvency proceedings. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), senior advocate Ravi Kadam argued for Aircel, and Senior Advocate Shyam Divan for the Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) of Reliance Communications. The next hearing of the case is listed to be on the 14th of August.

The SC clarified that it would not entertain any objections regarding the assessment of the AGR dues or attempts at reassessment or recalculation. The only aspect for consideration left before the Court was fixation of the time period within which the telecom companies can clear these dues. The order on the application moved by DoT to allow telecom companies to clear the AGR dues amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crores in a staggered manner over 20 years is also yet to be passed. 

SG Mehta told the Court that the Centre is in the process of filing an affidavit and informed that all the IBC cases of the different telecom companies were at different stages of the insolvency process under the law. Furthermore, he also provided the court with the summary of the amounts which are to be recovered from the telecom companies like Reliance Communications and Aircel. On the point of selling of the spectrum, SG Mehta categorically stated that the spectrum could not be included as a company's assets, since it is a national property. Hence, it is not in the power of any company to sell it.

With regards to the matter of Reliance Communications, Mehta stated that the objections raised as to spectrum sale are still under consideration before the Supreme Court. 

While hearing this argument, the SC Bench inquired on why there was a delay in the first place in filing an appeal which raised the point that spectrum could not be sold.

With the government opposing the move, it remains to be seen if the spectrum will be sold or not. 

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spectrum relaince aircel videocon supreme court

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