New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared Reliance Communications (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani guilty of contempt and asked him to pay Ericsson India Rs 453 crore within four weeks or go to jail.
The top court fined him and two of his directors Rs 1 crore each, pulling him up for his “cavalier attitude” and “wilful disobedience” of breaching an undertaking and order.
The Supreme Court had, on October 23, asked RCom to clear Ericsson’s dues by December 15 after which it would attract an interest of 12 per cent per annum.
On Wednesday, the court pointed out that any unconditional apology given by Reliance will be rejected as they had “breached the undertaking and order”.
Ambani’s RCom had a signed a 7-year deal with Ericsson India in 2014 to manage and operate its network. The Swedish company went to the Supreme Court over unpaid dues to the tune of Rs 550 crore.
Ericsson’s lawyers had put forward that while the Reliance Group had money to invest in the Rafale jet deal, it did not pay them their dues.
Anil Ambani stated that he had tried to move “heaven and earth” to clear Ericsson’s dues but was not in control of the funds as he failed to undergo an assets sale deal with brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio. RCom was in insolvency and the assets sale was paused after the Centre denied immunity to Mukesh Ambani’s firm from past-payment liabilities.
Ericsson had refused to accept Rs 118 crore which Ambani’s firm had offered in the face of the media trial against him.
RCom was once India’s second largest mobile network operator but closed down operations in 2017.