In a major setback, the Supreme Court has held RCom chairman Anil Ambani guilty of contempt of court for wilfully violating its order and not paying its dues of Rs 550 crore to Ericsson.
The Supreme Court held that the RCom chairman Anil Ambani, Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel chairperson Chhaya Virani breached the undertaking given to the apex court and the related orders, reported PTI. The apex court further directed RCom chairman Anil Ambani and others to purge the contempt by paying Rs 453 crore to Ericsson in four weeks.
Notably, in case of default of payment to Ericsson, Anil Ambani could be sent to jail for three months. Anil Ambani wilfully did not pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson, and he took a ‘cavalier’ approach, noted the apex court. Further, the Supreme Court also directed Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel to pay Rs 1 crore each within a time period of four weeks, or the chairman could go to jail for an additional term of one month, PTI reported. It further directed that Rs 118 crore already deposited by Reliance Group in the apex court’s registry be disbursed to Ericsson.
Nitin Bansal, Head of Ericsson India welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, while speaking at an event held in Delhi. In response to the Supreme Court’s order, Reliance Communication said in a statement on the exchanges that it shall comply with the court’s directive.”We respect the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgement. The RCOM Group shall comply with same,” a Reliance Communication Limited spokesperson said.
On February 13, the apex court had reserved its judgement when Ericsson India alleged that the Reliance Group has money to invest in the Rafale jet deal but was unable to clear its Rs 550 crore dues, a charge the RCom had denied. Anil Ambani told the Supreme Court that with the failure of its assets sale deal with elder brother Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, his company has entered insolvency proceedings and is not in control of the funds. Earlier, RCom had approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for fast-tracking of its debt resolution plan. The company said its board had resolved to take the NCLT route for early resolution of its debt as it was impossible to get 100% approval of all the 40 lenders despite over 45 meetings taking place over the past one year.
Source: Financial Express, February 20, 2019