The Supreme Court on Friday threatened to block Aircel’s earnings from 2G spectrum allocated to it unless the telecom company’s owner and officials appear before a trial court hearing an alleged bribery case.
The apex court also restrained transfer and sale of shares by Aircel, potentially delaying its proposed merger with the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications Ltd.
A bench headed by chief justice JS Khehar said Aircel’s Malaysian proprietor T Anand Krishnan and senior executive Ralph Marshall must appear in court and give an explanation.
“From 2G spectrum, one can earn a lot of money. We will not allow service to continue if the licence is earned as a matter of fraud,” the bench said giving the accused time till February 3.
“We will not tolerate that he (Krishnan) uses our asset and runs away from the process of law,” the bench added.
Krishnan is accused of bribing Dayanidhi Maran, who as telecom minister during the UPA regime, had allegedly forced then Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell his company to Malaysia-based firm Maxis. Spectrum licence was allotted to the company in November 2006. The CBI accuses Maran of receiving Rs 642 crore as bribe.
The bench also asked the Centre to devise a mechanism to transfer the existing 65 million Aircel subscribers to another service provider.
“This should be done keeping in mind the obvious adverse consequences that might affect the users,” the bench said, ruling out any hearing if it prohibits Aircel from continuing business.
“It would not be open to the accused to refer to the monetary losses it might incur due to the order,” the bench said.
BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy’s application seeking a probe into the Aircel-Maxis deal would be heard on the next date. He has challenged finance ministry clearance to the merger.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, the financial crime investigating agency, told the apex court the Malaysian government did not heed the Indian authorities’ request for co-operation in the probe.
“We were told that it amount to meddling in their internal affairs,” said senior counsel KK Venugopal, assisting the court in the case.