SC to Anil Ambani, two RCom directors: Pay Ericsson ₹453 cr or face jail

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on February 20, 2019 Published on February 20, 2019

Reliance Communication Ltd Chairman Anil Ambani. File Photo   -  PTI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held Reliance Communication (RCom) Chairman Anil Ambani and two directors of the group guilty of contempt of court and asked them to pay ₹453 crore to Swedish telecom equipment major Ericsson within four weeks. Failure to comply with the order will invite a three-month jail term.

This is in addition to the ₹118 crore RCom had deposited with the Supreme Court Registry, said the court order, a copy of which was viewed by BusinessLine. The court will hand over this deposit to Ericsson in a week.

Reliance Telecom Chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel Chairperson Chhaya Virani are the other two directors found guilty by the court on Wednesday.

Also read: RCom deposits partial payment of Rs 131 crore

RCom’s deadline to pay ₹550 crore to Ericsson ended on December 15, which was personally guaranteed by Anil Ambani.

A Bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saharan pronounced the verdict in the Ericsson case. The Swedish company had dragged Ambani to court after RCom failed to clear its dues.

The apex court also directed RCom, Reliance Telecommunication and Reliance Infratel to deposit ₹1 crore each in four weeks to the court registry. If not, the chairpersons of these companies will have to undergo an additional jail term of one month.

“We respect the judgment of the Supreme Court. The RCom Group shall comply with the same,” an RCom spokesperson said.

The apex court also observed that RCom’s spectrum deal with Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) did not materialise as the latter refused to give an undertaking for past dues. “Meanwhile, in parallel proceedings, this court did its utmost to lend a helping hand, so that, independently of these orders, sale of assets could also be affected,” it added.

Spectrum sale

The court had earlier directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to provide a no-objection certificate (NOC) to RCom for the sale of spectrum. However, it was pointed out that the NOC could only be given if the buyer of the spectrum gave an undertaking that it would be responsible for the payment of RCom’s debts.

The sale of spectrum to RJio, therefore, did not fructify, not because the DoT refused to give the NOC, as has been alleged by Reliance companies in their pleadings filed in this case, but only because RJio refused to give an undertaking, the court observed.

Related news: Supreme Court gives RCom 4 weeks to respond to Ericsson’s contempt petition

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on February 20, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor