SC holds Anil Ambani in contempt, says pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson or stay 3 months in jail
New Delhi, Feb 20: The Supreme Court has held Anil Ambani and two others guilty of contempt. The court pronounced the verdict on three contempt applications filed by Telecom equipment maker Ericsson against Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani and others for not clearing its dues.
The court ordered that Rs 453 crore be paid to Ericsson within four weeks, failing which a three month jail term would follow. The court also directed the registry to hand over the already deposited Rs 118 crore by RCom to Ericsson.
The court observed that 3 Reliance companies did not adhere to the 120 day deadline not the extra 60 day indulgence given by the SC to pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson. The undertaking that was given was false to the knowledge of the court and apart from affecting the administration of justice, it is also a breach of undertaking given to the Supreme Court.
While stating that the attitude was worse that cavalier, the court rejected the unconditional apology offered by RCom.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran on February 13 reserved its judgement when Ericsson India had alleged that the Reliance Group has money to invest in the Rafale jet deal but they were unable to clear its Rs 550-crore dues, a charge which was vehemently denied by the Anil Ambani-led company.
Ambani told the top 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.
Reliance Communications (RCom) had told the court they had tried to move "heaven and earth" to ensure Ericsson gets its due but was unable to do so due to failure of assets sale deal with Jio.
The contempt plea has been filed against Ambani, Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth, Reliance Infratel chairperson Chhaya Virani and SBI chairman.
The court on October 23 asked RCom to clear the dues by December 15, 2018, saying delayed payment would attract an interest of 12 per cent per annum.
The plea by Ericsson had sought that the court direct Ambani and the lenders forum to hand over the Rs 550 crore with interest from sale proceeds as per the October 23 order.