The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its judgment on the Swedish Telecom giant Ericsson’s plea seeking contempt action against Reliance Communications (RCom) chairman Anil Ambani over alleged non-payment of Rs 550 crore dues.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saharan reserved the verdict, with senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Ericsson India invoking the Rafale deal to target Ambani.
“They have money for Rafale. Somebody who is getting involved in every conceivable project has no money to pay Rs 550 crore to us and honour this Court’s order”, the Counsel told the bench, pointing out that RCom had given an undertaking to the court to pay the amount to Ericsson.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Anil Ambani, sought to counter this and said the undertaking was conditional upon the sale of RCom assets to Jio. “To say that Anil Ambani gave a personal undertaking and that it was unconditional is a traversing of justice … It was conditional”, Rohatgi said.
He contended that the undertaking was submitted pursuant to an extraordinary order for the benefit of all involved, as the matter would have continued under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) if that was not done.
Rohatgi told the bench that the sale which was expected to net Rs 18,100 crore brought in only Rs 780 crore. Dave submitted that this money from the sale was given to the Department of Telecommunications instead of Ericsson. Rohatgi replied that lenders had done this to keep the telecom licence alive as without that, there would be nothing.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for two others who too have been accused of contempt by Ericsson, claimed that the alleged contemnors were not running away from their commitment to pay. “We wanted to honour the commitment but just couldn’t raise it,” he submitted. Dave rejected the contention that the undertaking was conditional.