Ericsson case: The Swedish telecom equipment maker had gone to the Supreme Court against Anil Ambani’s company for not clearing dues.
NEW DELHI: Industrialist Anil Ambani was held guilty of contempt today by the Supreme Court, which said he will go to jail for three months if he doesn’t pay Rs. 453 crores to Ericsson India within four weeks. The court tore into the Reliance Communications chairman for what it called a “cavalier attitude” and fined him and two of his directors Rs. 1 crore each. “Anil Ambani and others breached their undertaking,” the court said, calling it “willful disobedience” of its order that they should repay Swedish Telecom Equipment maker Ericsson. In a statement, a Reliance Communication Limited spokesperson said: “We respect the Supreme Court judgement. The RCOM Group shall comply with the same.”
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
- The Supreme Court ruled that Rs. 180 crore already deposited by Reliance Group in the court registry be given to Ericsson. It also said any unconditional apology given by Reliance needs to be rejected as they had “breached the undertaking and order”.
- Ericsson India signed a seven-year deal with RCom in 2014 to manage and operate its network. Last year, it went to supreme court against Anil Ambani company over unpaid dues of Rs. 550 crore.
- Ericsson had argued before the court that while the Relaince Group had the money to invest in the Rafale jet deal, it had failed to clear its dues, a charge which was vehemently denied by the Anil Ambani-led company.
- Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence is one of the offset partners of Dassault, the maker of the Rafale jets for which India and France signed a deal in 2016. The 36-jet contract is at the core of the opposition’s allegations of corruption to benefit Anil Ambani; the allegation has been strongly refuted by the government, Reliance and Dassault and the Supreme Court also dismissed calls for an investigation.
- Anil Ambani had told the top court that with the failure of an assets sale deal with older brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, his company had entered insolvency proceedings and was not in control of the funds. The assets sale was stalled after the government refused to provide immunity to Mukesh Ambani’s firm from any past-payment liabilities.
- RCom had also told the court that it had tried to move “heaven and earth” to ensure Ericsson gets its dues but was unable to do so because of the failed assets sale.
- The contempt petition was filed against Anil Ambani, Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel chairperson Chhaya Virani.
- Ambani’s firm has agreed to deposit Rs. 118 crore with the top court’s registry after accusing the unsecured creditor of sentionalising the issue and conducting a media trial. However, Ericsson hs refused to accept the offer.
- On October 23, the court had asked RCom to clear its dues by December 15, warning that delayed payment would mean an interest of 12 per cent a year.
- The plea by Ericsson had sought that the court direct Anil Ambani and the lenders forum to follow that order and hand over Rs. 550 crore with interest from the assets sale proceeds.Once India’s second-biggest phone carrier, RCom shut down its mobile business in 2017.