The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response from Reliance Communications (RCom) Chairman Anil Ambani on a contempt plea by telecom company Ericsson for its failure to pay outstanding dues of about Rs 550 crore. The top court bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran sought response from Ambani on the contempt plea by Vishal Garg — the authorised representative of Ericsson India — who has contended that RCom was in breach of top court’s August 3, 2018 and October 23, 2018 orders directing it to pay Ericsson Rs 550 crore.
Besides Ambani, the other two respondents in the contempt plea are Satish Seth — Chairman, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Chhaya Virani — Chairman, Reliance Infratel Ltd. The court gave five weeks’ time to respond to the notice.
Reacting to Monday’s order, a Reliance Communications spokesperson said: “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has given four weeks’ time to file its response to the contempt petition filed by Ericsson. Thereafter, Ericsson has been given one week’s time to file its rejoinder. The matter will be taken up for hearing thereafter.”
“RCom has deposited a partial payment of Rs 131 crore to Ericsson from the operational funds available with the company. RCom has taken all required steps towards enabling the settlement and remains fully committed to make the payment to Ericsson from the proceeds of the spectrum sale,” said the spokesperson, as reported by IANS.
The court was told that the moment the deal with Reliance Jio on the sale of the spectrum was through, the dues would be cleared. The court was informed that the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) was not issuing a no-objection certificate for the sale of spectrum by the Reliance Communications to Reliance Jio Infocomm as there were dues that Reliance Communication had to pay it.
The court on Monday asked both the Reliance Jio Infocomm and Reliance Communications to sort out the issue of RCom’s dues to the government by January 11. The apex court asked both to sort out the issue as Reliance Jio Infocomm said it would not shoulder the other liabilities of RCom towards DoT.
On its part, senior counsel, Kapil Sibal appearing for RCom, told the court that that company would bear its past liabilities and would not turn to Jio Infocomm with any future demand. The court also asked Jio if it can undertake to abide by the spectrum trading rules.