Anil Ambani To Face 3-Month Jail If He Fails To Pay Rs 453 Crore In 4 Weeks To Ericsson
Anil Ambani who is already reeling under the debt of Rs 47,000 crore and recently filed for bankruptcy is in another trouble. Today, the Supreme Court held Reliance group chairman and its directors guilty of contempt for willfully not paying Rs 550 crore to Ericsson. The apex court judgment came after Ericsson, the Swedish telecom equipment maker, filed third contempt plea in the court as RCom failed to pay its dues. If within four weeks, Anil Ambani fails to pay dues then he will be sent to jail for three months.
The bench of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran ordered Reliance to pay Rs 453 crore to Ericsson within four weeks to avoid Contempt. Rs 180 crore that was paid by Reliance to court will now be given to Ericsson. Rs 1 crore fine was imposed on RCom, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Reliance Infratel Ltd, the companies which come under Reliance group. The directors of these three companies will have to spend a month in jail if the fine is not paid.
While rejecting the apology by the Reliance group, SC said, “Unconditional apology by Reliance can’t be accepted given the attitude of the deponent to the highest court of the land. Three Reliance companies had no intention of payment of money, it amounts to contempt”. The court noted that the Reliance group had no intention of paying the dues and ‘wilfully’ trying to evade the repayment.
What is the case and the repeated contempt plea
Ericsson in 2014, they had signed a seven-year deal to operate and manage RCom’s nationwide telecom network but were not paid dues to the tune of over Rs 1,000 crore.
Ericsson was supposed to get the payment as part of the business deal. Reportedly, the Anil Ambani group has already been battling a debt of about Rs 45,000 crore. In May, in dispute settlement at NCLAT, Ericsson had agreed to scale down its dues from Rs 1,600 crore to Rs 550 crore to be paid by September end. It was agreed upon the condition that if the company failed to pay up, it would be pushed back to insolvency proceedings at National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and sale of its assets would be reversed.
As Anil Ambani failed to pay the dues by September 30, Ericsson filed a contempt of court petition on October 4 and requested the court to not allow Anil Ambani and two senior executives to leave the country. Ericsson said, “They have no respect for the nation, and have abused the process of law.” The Ambani-owned company, on September 28 asked for a 60-day extension to the previously decided deadline of September 30 to settle dues.
The Supreme Court on October 24 granted relief to Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communication and gave time till December 15 to repay the dues to Ericsson. On October 2, Reliance Communication had sought a 60-day extension to repay the dues of about Rs 550 crore. Justice Nariman said that this was the last chance for the company, and in case of further delay in payment would attract the interest of 12% per annum.
Later on January 4, they filed another contempt of court petition. In the contempt petition, Ericsson has asked Ambani to be detained and be barred from travelling overseas unless he ensures payment.
In the same case, the Supreme court sacked its two officials for tampering with a judicial document.