Anil Ambani led Reliance Communications given last opportunity by SC to pay Rs 550 cr; deadline Dec 15
The Supreme Court Tuesday asked Reliance Communication Ltd to clear the dues of Rs 550 crore to telecom equipment maker Ericsson India by December 15, saying that delayed payment would attract an interest of 12 per cent per annum. A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said that it was the last opportunity given to RCom for clearing the settlement amount. It said that Ericsson can revive its contempt plea against Reliance if the settlement amount is not paid by December 15.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Reliance said that the company has been waiting for the department of telecom's approval to sell its spectrum following which it will pay the Ericsson. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Ericsson said that the argument of the Reliance is a "complete bogey".
Ericsson's has filed a plea in the apex court seeking contempt action against RCom Chairman Anil Ambani and others for failing to pay Rs 550 crore towards settlement to the company by September end. The company had alleged that RCom has "wilfully and consciously" defied the order dated August 3 of the top court and the undertaking given before it to pay Rs 550 by September end this year.
It has sought initiation of contempt proceedings against RCom top officials including Ambani. "They have no respect for the law of the nation and have abused the due process of law," the plea had said. The apex court had approved the settlement between RCom and Ericsson India Pvt Ltd over a payment dispute and asked the telecom company to pay Rs 550 crore to the Indian arm of the Swedish firm by September 30.
Ericsson India, which had signed a 7-year deal in 2014 to operate and manage RCom's nationwide telecom network, had alleged that it had not been paid the dues of over 1,500 crore and challenged the debt-ridden firm before National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). A apex court had perused the May 30 interim order of the NCLAT and noted that Ericsson India was willing to settle its debt of over Rs 1,500 crore for a sum of Rs 550 crore which was to be paid by RCom within 120 days.
It had on August 3 allowed RCom to sell assets covering spectrum, fibre, telecom towers, MCNs and certain real estate assets, for an aggregate value of approximately Rs 25,000 crore.