Law law land

The courts of the country, time and again, prove that all hope is not lost when it comes to justice. From top politicians to business giants to senior officials, no matter how mighty the accused was, they face the music from the courts. Just days after it directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the CBI probe and imposed Rs 1 lakh fine on CBI former interim director Nageswara Rao for transferring the agency’s joint director A K Sharma, who was probing the Bihar shelter home sexual assault cases, without consulting it, the Supreme Court, Wednesday, held Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) and its chairman Anil Ambani guilty of contempt of court for not paying dues to Ericsson.

In a strongly-worded order, a bench, headed by Justice R F Nariman, directed Ambani to pay Rs 453 crore to the Swedish telecom equipment maker within a month and said a three-month jail term would follow if the payment was not made in time. It was observed that RCom had no intention to pay and had ‘wilfully’ not paid Ericsson the due amount. An apology by RCom was also rejected by the top court. A fine of Rs 1 crore each was imposed on three Reliance companies — RCom, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Reliance Infratel Ltd — for not adhering to payment deadlines imposed by the court. The amount due to Ericsson has to be deposited with the registry of the Supreme Court.

The court was ruling on Ericsson’s contempt plea against RCom and Anil Ambani for ‘wilful disobedience’ of the court’s earlier orders to pay dues of Rs 550 crore to the Swedish telecom equipment maker. Ericsson also sought contempt proceedings against Reliance Infratel Ltd, its chairperson Chhaya Virani; Reliance Telecom Ltd, its chairman Satish Seth; and State Bank of India. It wanted Ambani to be ‘detained in civil prison’ until the payment is made. Such strong orders by the courts would send warning signals and instil fear among the mighty to follow rules and orders.

NT Bureau