India’s Supreme Court will today hear two cases related to the ongoing spat between Reliance Communications (RCom) and Ericsson.
The Swedish vendor has brought a second contempt of court proceeding against RCom chairman Anil Ambani after the operator missed its extended deadline for delivering INR5.5 billion ($78.5 million) in unpaid service fees, reports The Economic Times.
Ericsson has demanded that Ambani be held in civil prison and prevented from leaving India. The chairman has offered a personal guarantee to the Supreme Court over the matter, while for its part RCom has issued a legal challenge to India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
The operator claims that it was unable to meet the extended payment deadline of 30th September as a direct result of the DoT’s refusal to approve its spectrum sale to Reliance Jio. Its plea to extend this deadline further to 15th December was rejected by the country’s high court, which granted the previous extension after finding that RCom’s asset sale to Jio had been delayed by circumstances beyond its control.
Around a year ago, RCom agreed to sell various assets including 800MHz spectrum to Jio in a bid to pay down some of its massive debt burden. However, the sale was held up after the DoT made its approval conditional on RCom paying the unpaid spectrum charges.
The operator has launched a legal challenge against the unpaid charges, which could be as much as INR29.5 billion. The DoT last month refused to approve the deal after Jio attempted to avoid assuming responsibility for the unpaid fees, arguing that this would violate trading guidelines.