There have been 19 adjournments and various opportunities have been granted by the Supreme court, acceding to the requests of both the telecom operators as well as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), and the final hearing in the matter remains pending for nearly four years now.
The matter will be heard by a bench headed by Justice M.R. Shah, who was part of the AGR bench headed by then Justice Arun Mishra.
The total OTSC liability on the operators is estimated to be Rs 25,000 crore. Individually, Airtel and Vodafone Idea have an exposure of Rs 9,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore, respectively.
Reliance Communications (RCom) and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) have OTSC liability to the extent of Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 1,800 crore approx, respectively.
The appeals last came up for a final hearing on November 1, 2022, but it could not be heard due to the non-availability of the Solicitor General.
Now the matter has been fixed for final hearing on Thursday.
In 2012-2013, the DoT had raised its demand for OTSC amounting to Rs 40,000 crore on various telecom operators. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) vide its order passed in February 2019 partly quashed such demands as being illegal and invalid.
On an appeal filed by the DoT against the TDSAT order, the Cupreme Court in its order dated August 19, 2019, admitted DoT’s appeal and also stayed the order of TDSAT, but the government’s appeal remains pending for nearly four years.