The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the government’s plea challenging a refund of Rs 104.34 crore to Reliance Communications (RCom). In December 2018, the Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had ordered the refund to the then telecom arm of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group as balance of bank guarantee for spectrum. The tribunal’s order was challenged by the government. Reliance Communications (RCom) slipped into insolvency in 2019.
“We don’t find any merits in the appeal,” said the bench of justices RF Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat.
This case is one of the many battles between RCom and the telecom department over dues.
The tribunal had directed the Centre to return the amount after encashing bank guarantees of Rs 908 crore on deferred charges of Rs 774 crore for the 2013 and 2015 spectrum auctions. The payment was to be made over a period of 18 years.
While RCom wanted the excess money to be returned after the department encashed the bank guarantees, the telecom department preferred to keep it as buffer for other liabilities of the operator.