In a major setback to industrialist Anil Ambani, the Supreme Court today held him guilty of contempt in a case filed by telecom equipment maker Ericsson. The court slapped a fine of Rs 1 crore on three Reliance Group companies – RCom, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Reliance Infratel Ltd – in the case. The complainant accused Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani and others of not clearing its dues.
The apex court directed Anil Ambani to pay the dues of Rs 453 crore in four weeks failing which he will be sentenced to three-month jail term. An amount of 118 crore is already deposited with the registry. The court directed this amount to be released immediately. The court observed that RCom had no intention to pay and had “willfully” not paid Ericsson the due amount. An apology by RCom was also rejected by the top court.
Earlier, a bench of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran on February 13 reserved its judgment when Ericsson India had alleged that the Reliance Group has money to invest in the Rafale jet deal but they were unable to clear its dues of Rs 550 crore.
Anil Ambani had told the Supreme Court that has entered insolvency proceedings due to failure of Reliance Communications (RCom) assets sale deal with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio. He argued that he is not in control of the funds. On October 23 last year, the top court had asked RCom to clear the dues by December 15. It had also said delay in payment would attract an interest of 12 per cent per annum.
Ericsson had filed three contempt cases and also sought proceedings against Reliance Infratel Ltd, its chairperson Chhaya Virani, Reliance Telecom Ltd, its chairman Satish Seth, and State Bank of India.