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‘Barely afloat’: Vodafone Idea told SC during AGR hearing

The bench told Vodafone that the question for the company is to show its bonafide.

SNS | New Delhi |

Vodafone Idea on Thursday told the Supreme Court (SC) that it is barely managing to remain afloat as the top court questioned the company’s worth in assets.

“The ship is barely afloat, the only way to pay AGR dues is to stagger payments over 20 years. The company has to earn and pay, and that is the only way,” Vodafone Idea Counsel Mukul Rohatgi told the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah.

When the apex court queried about company’s contingent liabilities in the absence of profits, Rohatgi said all documents can be brought before the top court to present the company’s financials.

After this, SC observed that there has been a provision for the down payment to avail the staggered payments. The bench told the troubled telco to show its bonafide to claim benefits if staggered payment.

The bench told Vodafone that the question for the company is to show its bonafide.

Justice Mishra asked that all parties come forward and offer a reasonable plan for payment of the AGR dues.

Justice Shah asked Vodafone to deposit some amount. “I have already paid Rs 7,000 crore,” said Rohatgi on behalf of Vodafone. Justice Shah replied: “You (Vodafone) must deposit some money; the government needs money for public welfare during this pandemic.”

Rohatgi claimed Vodafone Idea did not make any profit in the last five years. After which the bench asked him to furnish proof of this effect.

“Tell us one thing in a yes or a no. Can you pay Rs 15,000 crore upfront or not? You must have contingency funds,” the bench asked him.

Rohatgi said Vodafone’s balance sheets will be placed before the court.