New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted time until 2 May to Reliance Communication Ltd (RCom) to pay Rs774 crore towards deferred spectrum liability.

The matter was accordingly disposed of by a bench comprising justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Rohinton F. Nariman.

RCom had approached the top court on 23 April, challenging two orders of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on 19 April rejecting additional time for payment of Rs492.8 crore and Rs281.4 crore with regards to deferred spectrum liabilities for spectrum acquired by it in 2015 and 2013, respectively.

The last dates for payment of the deferred spectrum liability of Rs281.4 crore and Rs492.8 crore were 5 April and 19 April, respectively.

Citing “unforeseen and uncalled for circumstances beyond their control", RCom had urged the court to stay the order of the appellate tribunal.

RCom claimed the appellate tribunal had failed to appreciate that rejecting additional time would hinder the debt restructuring being undertaken at the behest of its lenders and secured creditors.

The government is fully securitized towards the liability on account of the bank guarantees that are valid up to April 2019, it added.

It was further claimed that the TDSAT, while rejecting additional time had overlooked the fact that RCom was willing to give an interest at 2% above the prime lending rate of the State Bank of India for delay in making the payment.

RCom had participated in the 2015 auctions and was successful in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1,800MHz bands in certain service areas for which it made an upfront payment of Rs1,104.09 crore. Similarly, an amount of Rs1,626.3 crore was furnished as upfront payment for the eight circles it acquired in the auction of spectrum in 2013.

In December 2017, as a part of its debt resolution plan, Anil Ambani-led RCom struck a Rs25,000 crore deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd for the sale of its assets mortgaged with different banks, to avoid insolvency proceedings. These include spectrum, media convergence nodes (MCN), real estate, towers and fibre assets.

The apex court on 5 April paved the way for RCom to proceed with the sale of spectrum, MCN and real estate assets that were previously under challenge. Sale of its tower and fibre assets is under challenge at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.

Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.

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