The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Ericsson India’s petition for contempt action against Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani and two others for not clearing their dues of Rs 550 crore, PTI reported.
Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran were hearing the case.
During the hearing, the Swedish telecom major’s lawyer Dushyant Dave pointed out to the Supreme Court that while Ambani has money to invest in the Rafale defence deal, he cannot pay the Rs 550 crore it owes to Ericsson and honour the court’s order, Bar and Bench reported. Ambani’s Reliance Defence is an offset partner of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
Last month, the top court had issued a notice to Ambani seeking a response on the contempt plea over the non-clearance of dues. In October, the court granted Reliance Communications time till December 15 to repay the money after the company sought a 60-day extension from the court. The court failed to hear the case on Tuesday because of lack of time but instructed Ambani to be present in court again the following day.
Ambani’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the judges that there was no clear case of individual liability. “The group is not part of any contempt,” The Hindu quoted Rohatgi as saying. “Such an argument does not hold water for an injunction leave alone contempt.”
Reliance Communications announced on February 1 that it would file for bankruptcy through the National Company Law Tribunal after failing to sell assets to pay up debt of around Rs 45,000 crore. The company had planned to sell spectrum to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, but it did not materialise.
“Nobody wants their company to go for IBC,” Rohatgi added, referring to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. “He tried to do his best to avert this situation.”