Reliance Communication Ltd. Chairman Anil Ambani leaves after appearing in the Supreme Court. (Source: PTI) 

Supreme Court Reserves Judgment In Ericsson’s Contempt Plea Against Anil Ambani, RCom

The Supreme Court today reserved its judgment on the contempt petitions filed by Ericsson AB against Reliance Communications Ltd. and its Chairman Anil Ambani, who was present in the apex court for the second straight day.

The contempt petitions were filed against Ambani and RCom for failing to pay dues worth Rs 550 crore to Ericsson. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Ericsson, argued that the court had ordered RCom to pay up by Sept. 30 and its failure to comply despite extensions amounts to contempt of the top court’s order. “The contempt was wilful and the undertaking to pay was unconditional.”

They wanted to breach the order from day one, Dave said, referring to the settlement offer made by RCom. Dave said they had accepted the offer made by RCom in good faith and agreed to lifting the moratorium. “It’s so unfortunate that people who think they are extraordinary citizens of the country think they can take the court for a ride.”

Anil Ambani leaves after appearing at the Supreme Court (Source: PTI)
Anil Ambani leaves after appearing at the Supreme Court (Source: PTI)

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Defending Ambani, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the undertaking to pay dues was subject to the spectrum sale deal between RCom and Reliance Jio going through. Despite making the best attempt to get permissions to sell the assets to Reliance Jio, the deal could not go through due to a failure to secure a no-objection certificate from the Department of Telecommunications, said Rohatgi.

“We could manage only Rs 780 crore in the sale with Jio which was routed to the DoT through the lenders to avoid the cancellations of the licences,” Rohatgi said.

He argued there couldn’t be any vicarious liability in this case to Ambani as there was no personal undertaking. “There is no personal undertaking. It’s a listed company. The dues of a listed company cannot be paid by an individual.”

The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran reserved the judgment after hearing the parties for over five hours.