Anil Ambani and his telecom giant, Reliance Communication was held guilty by the Supreme Court on Wednesday on grounds of contempt for breaching undertakings to clear outstanding dues to Ericsson India.
Ambani and directors of the group companies, however, escaped the jail term since the court said that the contempt can be purged by making clear the dues within four weeks, along with an interest.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman ordered Ambani and the RCom companies to pay up Rs 453 crore with interest within four weeks. It added that the contemnors will suffer a jail term of three months and an additional penalty of Rs 1 crore if they fail to make the payment in four weeks.
Justice Nariman read out the relevant part of his judgment, in which, Ambani and the other directors have been held culpable of wilful disobedience and gross contempt of court.
“RCom had no intention to abide with the undertakings… Undertakings were false to the knowledge of the RCom and group companies. This amounts to contempt of court,” said the judge.
It maintained that RCom chairman Anil Ambani committed wilful disobedience personally as well.
“We, however, think the contempt can be purged by clearing the payments with interest,” maintained the court.
Ambani and the other directors were present in the courtroom when the order was pronounced.
RCom was hauled up for contempt for not making the payment of Rs 550 crore to Ericsson despite the court orders and subsequent undertakings by the company and its directors.
The case had seen an extraordinary event when two Supreme Court officials were sacked last week after they tampered with a judicial order, making it look favourable to Ambani.
While the court had sought personal presence of Ambani pursuant to the notice of contempt, the tampering made it look like he did not need to show up.