On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court held Reliance Communications (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani guilty of contempt of court for wilfully violating its order and not paying its dues of Rs 550 crore to Telecom equipment maker Ericsson.
The bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran ruled that if billionaire Anil Ambani along with Chairmen of two RCom units Chhaya Virani and Satish Seth fail to pay the Ericsson’s dues in four weeks, that is, by March 19, 2019, they will undergo a jail term of three months.
The apex court held that the RCom chairman, Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel chairperson Chhaya Virani breached the undertaking given to the court and the related orders.
The court also directed Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel to pay Rs 1 crore each in four weeks to the apex court’s registry or the chairman will have to undergo additional jail term of one month.
It had also directed the registry of the apex court to pay Rs 118 crore deposited by the RCom group to Ericsson.
Contempt petition by Ericsson
The Swedish gear-maker Ericsson filed the contempt petitions alleging that RCom violated the undertaking made before the apex court to pay off the due debts worth Rs 550 crores. The company missed the two deadlines of September 30 and December 15.
Ericsson claimed that the Reliance group “wilfully and consciously” defied the Supreme Court order dated August 3, 2018 and the undertaking given before it to pay up by September-end.
The apex court on October 23, 2018 gave one last opportunity to RCom for clearing the settlement amount by setting December 15 as the deadline. However, this deadline was also missed.
The repeated failure by RCom to comply with the promise landed him in trouble when the Supreme Court held Ambani in contempt.