India's Supreme Court yesterday held billionaire industrialist and Reliance Communication's Chairman Anil Ambani guilty of contempt of court for wilfully violating its order by not paying Rs 550-crore dues to telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson India.
The apex court held that the RCom chiarman and Reliance Telecom Chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel Chairperson Chhaya Virani breached the undertaking given to the apex court and the related orders.
Ambani, Seth and Virani were present in the courtroom when the judgement was delivered.
The top court said Ambani and others will have to pay Rs 453 crore to Ericsson in four weeks or go to jail.
A bench, comprising of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran, also directed Reliance Communication, Reliance Telecommunication and Reliance Infratel to deposit Rs 1 crore each to the apex court's registry in four weeks or the chairman of these companies will have to go an additional jail term of one month.
It directed that Rs 118 crore already deposited by Reliance Group in the apex court's registry be disbursed to Ericsson within a week. "From undertakings given by Reliance Group's top brass, it appears they have wilfully not paid the amount to Ericsson despite orders and undertakings given," the bench said.
The apex court specified that any unconditional apology given by Reliance needs to be rejected as they have breached the undertaking and the order.
The bench said the three Reliance companies did not adhere to the 120-day deadline and the extra 60 days given by the apex court to pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson.
It said the undertakings given in the court was false to the knowledge of the court and affected the administration of justice.