Oil India To Move TDSAT Against DoT’s Demand For Rs 48,489-Crore Dues

Other non-telecom firms slapped with similar demands are also likely to move the TDSAT.

Trucks sit parked next to oil tanks  in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  
Trucks sit parked next to oil tanks in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

State-owned Oil India Ltd. is likely to move the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal this week against the telecom department seeking about Rs 48,500 crore in past dues on the surplus bandwidth capacity it had leased to third parties, its Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Chandra Mishra has said.

Other non-telecom firms, which have also been slapped with similar demands, too are likely to move the TDSAT.

Those likely to go to the TDSAT include gas utility GAIL India Ltd, from whom Rs 1.83 lakh crore has been sought, Power Grid Corp that has been slapped with Rs 21,953.65 crore liability and Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd which faces a payout of Rs 15,019.97 crore.

Following the Supreme Court ruling in October last year that non-telecom revenues should be included for considering payments of the government dues by firms holding any sort of telecom license, the Department of Telecommunications slapped Rs 1.47 lakh crore demand on mobile phone operators such as Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd and another Rs 2.7 lakh crore from non-telecom firms.

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Non-telecom firms such as Oil India, GAIL and PowerGrid filed a clarificatory petition on the applicability of the Oct. 24 order on them, but the apex court on Feb. 14 asked them to approach the appropriate authority.

“As per our licence condition, any dispute has to be referred to TDSAT and so we will be approaching TDSAT within a weeks time,” Mishra told PTI.

On Feb. 14, the Supreme Court had pulled up the DoT for not enforcing its Oct. 24 order that gave telcos three months time to pay dues. Hours later, the DoT sent notices to Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. asking them to clear dues immediately but hadn't so far raised such demand with non-telecom companies, industry sources said.

Oil India, the nation's second-biggest state-owned oil producer, holds a National Long Distance Service Licence with the primary objective of monitoring and operation of its pipeline network.

The surplus bandwidth capacity available with the company was leased out to the telecom operators/other users, on which the company regularly paid the applicable license fee to the telecom department.

But after the Oct. 24 Supreme Court ruling for including non-telecom revenues for calculating dues, the DoT included all revenues from oil and gas to seek Rs 48,489 crore from the company for the period from 2007-08 to 2018-19.

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Oil India believes that the Oct. 24 judgment was not applicable to the company and had represented to the DoT stating that the demand raised is not sustainable either in law or on facts as the nature of licence in case of telecom service providers is different and distinct from the licences given to the company, Mishra said.

In case of GAIL, which held a IP-II licence, the DoT assessed Rs 1,83,076 crore as outstanding after including interest and penalty computed on the entire revenue of the company.

PowerGrid, which holds NLD and internet service provider licences, was asked to pay Rs 21,953.65crore (including interest and penalty) for FY 2012-13 to FY 2017-18 by adding revenue related to power transmission and consultancy as 'miscellaneous income' in adjusted gross revenue, company sources said, adding the firm will approach the TDSAT in next few days.

Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd., which had a very small aperture terminal and a Category ‘A’ ISP, was asked to pay Rs 15,019.97 crore for financial years 2005-06 to 2018-19.