Anil Ambani, bearer of a surname synonymous with opulence and brother of the richest Indian, has been found guilty of contempt and threatened with three months in prison if he fails to liquidate the quotas of Rs 453 crore in four weeks.
“A voluntary breach is made”, the bank of judges R.F. Nariman and Vineet Saran ruled, adding that a “deliberate misstatement” was made to “elude” court orders.
The telecommunications firm Ericsson brought to the court three Anil companies, collectively called “Reliance companies” by the bank, for failing to comply with an extended deadline to liquidate the quotas that accrued while the Swedish multinational operated the telecommunications network of Reliance Communications (RCom).
The three companies of Anil have to pay Ericsson Rs 550 crore plus interest. Reliance companies have deposited millions of rupees in the registry of the Supreme Court. The court has now asked companies to pay Rs 453 crore in four weeks, in addition to the deposit that will go to Ericsson, which makes the total amount of Rs 571 crore.
The three companies – RCom, Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel – will also have to expel Rs 1 crore each as a fine within a month. Otherwise, presidents will be invited to one month in prison, including Anil. If the terms of the jail should be activated, they will be executed simultaneously, which means that the maximum imprisonment will be three months.
Reliance lawyer Mukul Rohatgi said: “I’m sure RCom will comply with the Supreme Court order.”
The profile of the defendant and the nature of the case were enough to make him a famous cause, but the problem was compounded by a sharp remark by an Ericsson defender that Anil had money to invest in a controversial Rafale company, but not to pay the fees.
By loading fuel into the fire, the suspicion arose that the order of a Supreme Court bank was manipulated in an alleged attempt to exempt Anil from personally appearing in court. Two judicial officials were summarily dismissed. Anil was present at the court on Wednesday when the order was pronounced.
The bank headed by Judge Nariman expressed his anguish for the reason stated by Reliance for not having complied with the deadline that was originally September 9, 2018, but extended until December 15 of last year.
The Reliance companies had cited the inability to close the sale of assets. The assets were supposed to have been sold to the Reliance group, owned by Anil’s older brother, Mukesh Ambani.
However, the bank said: “It is clear that the three Trust Companies did not intend, as a minimum, to adhere to the 120-day time limit or the 60-day extended time limit …”. The commitments given on the basis that the amount of Rs 550 million rupees would be paid only from the sale of assets was false to the knowledge of the three Reliance Companies. This in itself affects the administration of justice and, therefore, is a disrespect to the court. ”
The court added: “To say that the sum of Rs 550 million people would be paid only for the sale of the assets of the three companies of Reliance is a deliberate error committed in the commitments, as well as the requests for extension of the time presented before this court, which was made for the purpose of evading the orders of this court. “