The telecom department will take this stance before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) decides on the matter, they said.
If not the telcos, then their buyer or recipient of the airwaves under the insolvency proceedings – UV Asset Restructuring Company (UVARCL) in the case of both Aircel and RCom – should be held liable for statutory dues such as adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, officials said.
“The telcos can get clearance (to go ahead with spectrum transfer) if they pay their statutory dues,” one of them said. “If they (bankrupt telcos) are unwilling, will the buyer (of spectrum) pay? The telcos need to make this clear.”
DoT’s stance will further delay asset monetisation plans of bankrupt telcos and impact lenders awaiting for proceeds of the sale, experts said.
UVARCL was poised to pick up most of the assets of RCom and all of Aircel. But the Reserve Bank of India recently refused to approve its resolution plan for Aircel. “Even RBI has stalled their plans and anyhow now the matter will be decided in NCLAT,” a government official said. “The final nod will have to come from DoT on spectrum sale.”
Telcos and DoT have been embroiled in a legal fight over AGR dues. The Reserve Bank rejected UVARC’s plan for Aircel citing certain laws that govern asset reconstruction companies. This despite the dedicated bankruptcy court in June approving the ARC’s proposal to take over of Aircel and its two units with a 74% stake and to repay ₹6,630 crore to the bankrupt telco’s financial creditors within five years.
Experts said another war over spectrum – the most crucial asset of a telcos – will delay operators’ bankruptcy resolution. If the resolution plans are not approved, then liquidation is a strong possibility for both Aircel and RCom, they said.