Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Capital Ltd., leaves in a car after the company’s shareholders meeting in Mumbai. (Photographer: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Bloomberg News)

Supreme Court Seeks RCom, Anil Ambani’s Reply In Ericsson’s Contempt Plea

The Supreme Court today asked Anil Ambani and Reliance Communications Ltd. to file their replies in a contempt petition filed by Ericsson seeking its dues from the telecom operator.

Ericsson asked the court to direct RCom to pay the outstanding Rs 550 crore plus interest. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing RCom, offered to deposit two demand drafts worth Rs 118 crore with the court, which it allowed. The top court also granted the company and Ambani four weeks to file their replies on Sibal’s request.

Ericsson in its plea had said that Ambani was guilty of contempt and should be “directed to be detained in a civil prison” unless its dues are cleared as ordered by the court on Oct. 23 last year.

The Supreme Court also asked Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and RCom to decide how to settle spectrum dues for the sale of RCom’s assets to go through.

Also read: Ericsson Seeks Contempt Action Against Anil Ambani For Failing To Clear Dues 

The court was hearing the contempt petition filed by RCom against the Department of Communications for not approving the sale of towers and spectrum. The top court asked Reliance Jio if it would be willing to give an undertaking to abide by the spectrum trading rules regarding the dues RCom owes the Department of Telecommunications.

Harish Salve, representing Reliance Jio, expressed his inability to agree, saying that can happen on the condition that RCom offers bank guarantees. The court then said it didn’t want to interfere and the two companies should discuss and resolve the matter.

Reliance Jio and RCom have jointly written to the Telecom Ministry to seek clarity on the liability of the spectrum, the PTI earlier reported citing sources. Moreover, the court had earlier allowed RCom to furnish a Rs 1,400-crore corporate guarantee backed by land to the DoT.

The sale of spectrum and towers is crucial for Anil Ambani-led RCom to fend off insolvency proceedings. The company, which owed lenders more than Rs 42,000 crore as of March last year, expects to get Rs 18,000 crore from the deal.