Supreme Court reserves verdict on contempt plea against Anil Ambani and others filed by Ericsson

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a contempt plea filed by Ericsson against Reliance Communication (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani and others for not clearing its dues of Rs 550 crore.

A bench of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Sharan said it was reserving the verdict after hearing all the parties — Anil Ambani, RCom, Ericsson and others.

Anil Ambani was present in the courtroom during the course of hearing. Earlier, the top court had asked Ambani to remain present before it in connection with the contempt case.

 Supreme Court reserves verdict on contempt plea against Anil Ambani and others filed by Ericsson

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AP

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Ambani countered the no contempt of court was made by Ambani. Rohatgi contended that there was no violation and no wilful defiance of the apex court's order.

He further added that allegations of RCom having received Rs 5000 crore from Jio was incorrect.

The counsel told the court that RCom is a public listed company with lakhs of shareholders and neither an individual director nor the entire group can be made liable for liability of the company.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Ericsson, argued that Anil Ambani has personal assets worth thousands of crores and must pay the balance of Rs 550 crores dues as per court undertaking.

“They (Anil Ambani and two others) live like emperors...No one has the intention to honour the order of the SC...They think they are god's gift to mankind. They have money to be invested in Rafale. But he doesn’t want to honour the SC order,” Dave said.

Anil Ambani-led RCom had earlier agreed to deposit Rs 118 crore but the Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson refused to accept. The top court had asked the RCom chief to deposit the amount in its registry.

Ericsson had also requested the home ministry to issue directions to prevent Ambani, Reliance Telecom Ltd Chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel Ltd Chairperson Chhaya Virani from leaving the country.

On 23 October last year, the top court had asked RCom to clear the dues by 15 December, 2018, stating that delayed payment would attract interest of 12 percent per annum.

In 2014, Ericsson India had signed a seven-year deal to operate and manage RCom's nationwide telecom network. Ericsson India had alleged that RCom had not been paid dues of over 1,500 crore. It challenged the debt-ridden firm before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

Perusing the NCLAT May last year order, the apex court had noted that Ericsson India was willing to settle its debt of over Rs 1,500 crore for a sum of Rs 550 crore, and it has to be paid by RCom within 120 days.

Updated Date: Feb 13, 2019 21:23:39 IST