The Supreme Court today (February 20, 2019) held Reliance Communications Ltd chairman Anil Ambani, Reliance Telecom Ltd chairman Satish Seth and chairperson of Reliance Infratel Ltd Chhaya Virani, guilty of contempt of court in the petition filed by Ericsson.
A Bench comprising of JusticesRohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran rejected the unconditional apology given by Reliance, in light of its “cavalier attitude” towards the highest Court of the land and said that the undertakings given by the three contemnors were “false to the knowledge” of the court and affected the administration of justice.
Further, the Bench also said that the contemnors “willfully” did not pay the money it owned Ericsson and “breached the undertaking given to the Supreme Court.”
The Bench directed Reliance Communications, headed by Anil Ambani to pay Ericsson Rs. 453 crorewithin four weeks. An amount of Rs 118 crore has already been deposited with the Court Registry. In case of failure to pay, the Bench stated that Chairperson Anil Ambani will have to undergo three months’ imprisonment.
Additionally, a fine of Rs 1 crore was imposed on each of the companies, who have to deposit the same with the Supreme Court Registry. In case of failure to deposit the fine of Rs 1 crore, each of the three Directors of the companies will have to undergo one month imprisonment.
Earlier on two occasions, the apex court had ordered Reliance to pay Rs. 550 crores to Ericsson towards settlement of dues, however, Reliance failed to make the payment which led Ericsson to move the Supreme Court.
Ericsson in its contempt petition contended that Reliance had committed gross contempt by disobeying orders of the Supreme Court.