RCom-Aircel merger in limbo; promoter summoned.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the transfer of 2G spectrum originally granted to Aircel to any other entity or service provider and also threatened to cancel Aircel’s use of 2G spectrum if T. Anantha Krishnan, owner and controller of Maxis Group, continues to evade appearance before Indian courts.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N.V. Ramana and D.Y. Chandrachud passed this order on an application from Centre for PIL alleging that Aircel was proposed to transfer its shares and a communication to this effect has been sent to Mumbai stock exchange by RCom and Airtel. Maxis Group, a Malaysian company, owns 74% stakes in Aircel which was originally granted 2G spectrum licences in November 2006.
Appearing for CPIL, counsel Prashant Bhushan submitted that the accused are evading summons and since spectrum licence had been obtained by Aircel through the proceeds of crime, the court should order attachment of the properties. He also informed that RCom and Airtel have proposed to purchase the shares.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal informed the court how Anantha Krishnan of Maxis group of companies was evading summons. When BJP MP Subramanian Swamy sought a probe against P. Chidambaram for his role in granting FIPB approvals for the investments, the Bench said this issue will be heard later.
After hearing the counsel the Bench in its order made it clear that it proposed to cancel the 2G licence granted to Aircel if the Malaysia-based Anantha Krishnan, who bought the majority shares of the Indian telecom company, and his one-time key aide and director Augustus Ralph Marshal fail to present themselves before Indian courts in response to summons issued to them.
Justice Khehar observed “Aircel is not before us. At the moment it is not attachment. If money is earned as a matter of fraud and if a party refuses to appear, we can ask the party not to sell spectrum. We must have the 2G accused before us. No matter where he is, he must come here and he cannot run away from the process of law, we will not tolerate that. If he wants to use the spectrum, he must come here and face the law. It is imperative to ensure that the process of law is not frustrated by non service of summons”.
The bench also said that it proposed to pass an order to restrain Aircel from earning any revenue from the 2G spectrum licence it received if the accused fail to appear in court. The bench asked the DoT and Ministry of Communication and Telecom to devise modalities in the meantime to ensure that 65 million Aircel subscribers are not affected and that they get services from some other network provider.
The government has also been asked to have the court order published in two leading newspapers in Malaysia so that Maxis and others are officially apprised of the order.