The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday refused to entertain a plea moved by the resolution professional (RP) of Reliance Communications Limited (RCom) seeking refund of nearly Rs 580 crore from Ericsson India. Instead, he was asked to approach the Mumbai bench of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
The RP of the company had approached NCLAT with a plea stating that since RCom was now under Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process, the money that it had given to Ericsson as a part of the settlement deal should now be returned to the company as Ericsson was only an operational creditor.
RCom had paid a sum of Rs 577 crore to Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson India following a judgment of the Supreme Court (SC) in which the company’s promoter Anil Ambani had been held guilty of contempt of court. In February this year, the SC had held Ambani and two of his top executives guilty of contempt of court for wilfully failing to pay the dues to telecom equipment maker Ericsson.
A two-judge Bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran held that the three Reliance group companies had “no intention, at the very least, of adhering to the time limit of 120 days or to the extended time limit of 60 days plus, as was given by way of indulgence.”
Ericsson India had in September 2017 moved insolvency petitions against RCom, Reliance Telecom, and Reliance Infratel at the Mumbai Bench of the NCLT for failing to pay their dues amounting to nearly Rs 1,500 crore. The petition was admitted by the NCLT in May 2018, following which the three Reliance group companies approached the NCLAT. It was in the NCLAT that Ericsson India and the three Reliance companies had come to a settlement that the latter would pay Rs 550 crore within 120 days, which was September 30, 2018.
The NCLAT had in its order noted that if RCom and its two subsidiaries failed to pay the said amount within the timeline, Ericsson India would be at liberty to revive the insolvency application.