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Telcos sought relief in guise of arithmetical errors: SC in AGR case

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Supreme-Court

The Supreme Court has said that the telecom companies’ plea seeking ‘rectification’ of defects in computation of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) would lead to recalculation of the amount in AGR dues, which has already been rejected by the top court last year.

In a big setback for telcos, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed their plea seeking correction of alleged errors in AGR calculation as misconceived. A day after the top court pronounced the judgment in the matter, it was uploaded on its website on Saturday afternoon.

The telcos had urged the top court to permit the Centre to verify their accounts and rectify the alleged defects in the computation of AGR dues, stating that if it is not allowed, the matter could threaten some of them in a highly competitive sector.

Dismissing the telcos’ plea, a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao said: “Though these applications appear to be innocuous at first blush, the end result of the relief sought by the applicants in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation which would amount to the AGR dues, as specified in the order of this court dated July 20, 2020, being altered.”

The bench, also comprising justices S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah, noted that even at the time of passing of the July 20, 2020 order, an attempt was made to seek recalculation and reassessment, which was rejected by the top court outright.

“The dispute relating to AGR dues had remained pending in courts for a very long period of time and bearing this in mind, this court was at pains to emphasise, at the cost of repetition, that the AGR dues payable by the TSPs (telecom service providers) cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation,” the bench said, making it clear that any application for altering the AGR dues cannot be entertained.

The telcos had argued that the accounts pertaining to several years had to be scrutinised to arrive at the amounts payable by them towards AGR dues.

The companies had contended that a scrutiny of the accounts had revealed that certain ‘arithmetical errors’ had arisen due to inadvertence on the part of the Department of Telecommunications while computing the dues.

They argued that the top court judgment passed on September 1, 2020 needed clarification as even calculation errors cannot be rectified by the Union of India in view this judgment.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, had referred to a note to demonstrate certain glaring errors in the demand raised by the Centre wherein amounts that have already been paid by the company were not taken into account for computing the outstanding AGR dues.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Airtel, had submitted that the errors committed in computation of its AGR dues arose due to double counting of some revenue items, payments made but not accounted for, and accrued deductions not being given effect to.

Singhvi said that his client should not be made to suffer for certain calculation errors made by the Centre.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing Tata, had submitted that there is no prohibition in seeking rectification of inadvertent errors committed in the calculation of AGR dues.

According to a note submitted by the DoT in the top court last year, Vodafone Idea owed Rs 58,254 crore, out of which it had paid around Rs 7,850 crore; Bharti Airtel owed Rs 43,980 crore of which it had paid over Rs 18,000 crore; and Tata Telecom owed Rs 16, 798 crores, out of which it had paid Rs 4,197 crore.

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Bull-run: Sensex crosses 60k-mark; realty stocks rally

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Bombay-Stock-Exchange

 India’s benchmark equity index S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 60,000-mark milestone on Friday. It took 246 days to accumulate the last 10,000 points.

The 30-scrip sensitive index crossed the milestone just after the pre-open session on the back of a rally driven by large caps with many index heavyweights touching their respective highs.

The Sensex opened at 60,158.76 points from its previous close of 59,885.36 points. It took only 42 days to gain the last 5,000 points.

At 12.10 p.m. the Sensex traded at 60,127.50 points, higher by 242.14 points or 0.40 per cent from its previous close.

The NSE Nifty50 traded above the 17,900 points-mark during the pre-noon session. It opened at 17,897.45 points from its previous close of 17,822.95. The Nifty touched a record intraday high of 17,927.20 points.

Sector-wise, Realty, IT, Media and Telecom indices were the best performers since May 18, 2021.

Auto, pharma and metal indices have risen the least.

Amongst BSE 200 stocks, JSW Energy, Mindtree, IRCTC and Mphasis have risen more than 100 per cent over this period.

Furthermore, LTI, LTTS, Godrej Properties and Zee Ent are other large gainers.

The market cap of all listed companies clubbed together crossed Rs 250 lakh crore.

By noon, NSE Nifty50 edged higher. It rose to 17,883.70 points, higher by 60.75 points or 0.34 per cent from its previous close.

“The rally in domestic market is driven by positive global cues, strong inflows by FIIs or DIIs, good corporate earnings, falling Covid-19 cases, upbeat corporate commentaries and low cost of capital. Amid the buoyant sentiment and increased activity, Nifty valuations has reached elevated levels and demand consistent delivery on earnings expectations,”said Siddhartha Khemka, Head – Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

“Given rich valuations, one cannot ignore intermittent volatility — however, we expect the positive momentum to continue on the back of improving economic activity and recovery in corporate earnings.”

According to Ashish Biswas, Head of Technical Research, CapitalVia Global Research: “The market is growing due to excess liquidity and a low-interest rate regime. Investors also felt relieved by the Federal Reserve’s stance on withdrawing stimulus and raising interest rates.”

“FIIs and DIIs continue to pour in more investment in the market which has led to further highs. The fear of the third wave has also decreased and investors are not worried about the adverse impacts on the economy as more and more people get vaccinated.”

In addition, Dhiraj Relli, MD & CEO, HDFC Securities said: “This shows the impact of return of FPIs and local investors continuing to invest despite headwinds that cropped up time and again.”

“The absence of a 10 per cent correction in the indices over the last 18 months shows the maturity of the local investors, but also throws up the possibility of that happening over the next few weeks or months.”

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Diesel price increased, petrol rate remains steady

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Petrol

 Auto fuel prices in the country have maintained stability amid volatility in global oil prices, but the oil marketing companies on Friday increased the price of diesel marginally while maintaining stability and petrol prices.

Accordingly, diesel prices increased by 20 paise per litre in the national capital to Rs 88.82 per litre on Friday while petrol price remained unchanged for the 19 consecutive days.

OMCs have preferred to maintain their watch prices on the global oil situation before making any revision in prices.

The wait and watch plan of OMCs has come to the relief of consumers as no revision has been done during a period when crude prices were on the rise over a shortfall in US production and demand pick up. This would have necessitated about Rs 1 increase in prices of petrol and diesel.

In Mumbai, the petrol price was stable at Rs 107.26 per litre while diesel rate increased to about Rs 96.40 a litre.

Across the country as well petrol price remained static on Friday while diesel price increased marginally.

Fuel prices have been hovering at record levels on account of 41 increases in its retail rates since April this year. It fell on a few occasions but largely remained stable.

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Cryptocurrency Hyper Fund under govt scanner

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Bitcoin

The government is keeping a close eye on cryptocurrency floating in the market based out of the country folowing alert that agencies responsible to check financial fraud are watching a company called Hyper Fund.

Sources said Hyper Fund, a DEFI by Hyper Tech Group has come under the radar recently. The Group claims to have launched the Hyper Fund to provide a decentralized financial infrastructure. Hyper Fund was announced in mid-2020.

As per the company website it is led by Ryan Xu, however, with the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) model Hyper Fund has been luring investors with higher returns and such offerings, a common practice under Ponzi Schemes, that got the authorities alerted in the first place.

According to sources, complaints against such Funds have started pouring in several states. In India, the RBI, Union Finance Ministry and SEBI had warned people against cryptocurrency trading. The RBI is planning to launch India’s official digital currency- E Rupee soon.

The Finance Ministry has clarified that Virtual currencies are also not legal tender. Hence, VCs are not currencies. The RBI has also clarified that it has not given any licence/ authorization to any entity/ company to operate or deal with Bitcoin or any virtual currency.

In June 2018, Amit Bhardwaj was arrested at the Delhi Airport by Pune police along with his brother Vivek Bhardwaj in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme. Bhardwaj, started his own bitcoin mining operations and allegedly cheated more than 8,000 people to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore from across the country.

He has lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police special cell, alleging that he received an extortion call and was asked to pay protection money on September 6, 2021. He had setup multi-level marketing (MLM) scam by luring investors to give him Bitcoins in return for promised higher returns, police had alleged.

Regulators in UK have issued warning against such fund and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have warnings issued for both Hyper Fund and Fund Advisor.

On its website, which was first published on in March 23 ,2021 and later updated on August 31, the FCA said, “We believe this firm may be providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation. Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised or registered by us. This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK.”

Warning investors about such fund, it further said: “You will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.”

The Website used by these companies as per FCA ar http://thehyperfund.online, https://thehyperfund.com/

Decentralised Finance (DEFI) offering through blockchain technology by HyperTech Group, which is said to be based out from Hong Kong, as sources said Indian Regulators and Authorities have started monitoring the situation.

Following the measures taken by financial regulators such as the US Security and Exchange Commission and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, Indian regulators and enforcement authorities have started monitoring investment in Hyper Fund — a Decentralised Finance offering through blockchain technology by HyperTech Group.

Globally, Financial regulators acknowledge the fact that Ponzi scheme organizers often use the latest innovation, technology, product or growth industry to entice investors and give their scheme the promise of high returns. Potential investors are often less skeptical of an investment opportunity when assessing something novel, new or “cutting-edge.” On its website, Hyper Fund claims to be �The Strongest Rocket in Blockchain Finance’

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