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Declaring that they would not hear "even for a second" arguments on re-assessment of the dues, which approximately run into Rs 1.6 lakh crore, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah reserved its verdict.
The bench said 15 or 20 years is not a reasonable time period and the companies should come forward with appropriate time frame.
During the hearing, Justice Arun Mishra said, "If you won't comply with our orders, we will strictly take action against you. We may send directly to jail who is doing wrong things from here."
Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, pleaded the court with folded hands. "Please give 15 years to pay the rest of the amount," said the senior advocate.
Last month, the Supreme Court asked the telecom companies to come up with a reasonable payment plan to clear their dues with the government, and directed them to submit their books of account for the past 10 years.
Telecom service providers pay the government 3-5 per cent of their AGR in spectrum usage charges and 8 per cent as licence fees. The firms have long argued that the AGR should comprise just revenue accrued from core services. The government says it should include all revenue.
Bharti Airtel has paid around Rs 18,004 crore, balance due is about Rs 25,976 crore, Vodafone Idea paid around Rs 7,854cr, Rs 50,399 crore is due, Tata Telecom paid around Rs 4197cr, around Rs 12,601 crore is due.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had allowed the telecom department to recover adjusted gross revenue-related dues worth Rs 92,000 crore from telecom companies.
But after the companies failed to clear the dues, the court had warned of strict action, including jail time for their bosses.
The Centre had argued that the firs should be given more time pointing out that forcing the firms to pay up can drive them to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy for even a single firm can have an adverse effect on the economy, it had argued.