Mumbai: Bharti Airtel has approached the Supreme Court, pointing out “arithmetical errors” made by the Department of Telecommunications in calculating the company’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, people directly aware of the matter said.

Vodafone Idea (Vi) may follow suit in the coming days, the people said. The moves may lead to another legal tussle over an issue that had put a question mark over the viability of both telcos. “Airtel has moved the Supreme Court and Vi is expected to file a petition as well, highlighting calculation errors in AGR dues. They have raised this with the telecom department before but there has been no response from them,” said one of the people.

The telcos are only pointing out the “arithmetical errors” in DoT’s calculations and haven’t taken a final call on filing curative petitions, a second person said.

Computational differences

Airtel and Vi did not respond to ET’s queries on the matter.Airtel owes the government almost Rs 26,000 crore and Vi has about Rs 50,400 crore in AGR dues to be paid in 10 equal instalments through March 31, 2031. Total AGR demand, as per DoT’s calculations, is about Rs 44,000 crore for Airtel and Rs 58,400 crore for Vi. Airtel has so far paid over Rs 18,004 crore of its dues and Vi has paid Rs 7,854 crore.

During the AGR hearings in the Supreme Court, the telcos had flagged anomalies including computational and accounting differences and duplication in demand items that DoT submitted, against what the operators had calculated.

After the Supreme Court’s October 2019 order, which widened the definition of AGR to include noncore revenue items, Airtel and Vi had submitted their self-assessed dues of Rs 13,004 crore and Rs 21,533 crore, respectively, which the court scrapped.

The court ruled on September 1, 2020, that the operators must pay 10% of their AGR dues — as demanded by DoT — by March 31, 2021, and the remainder in equal instalments every financial year up to March 31, 2031.