Banks seek hearing in SC over Aircel licence

Banks seek hearing in SC over Aircel licence

Banks seek hearing in SC over Aircel licence

Banks on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to hear them before cancelling Aircel’s 2G spectrum licence, saying the company owed them about Rs 20,000 crore.

The telecom company is in danger of losing its licence, granted in 2006, as its Malaysia-based owner has not heeded summonses from a court hearing the 2G spectrum scam case.

Any order on 2G airwaves could impact creditors since Aircel owes them about Rs 20,000 crore, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted before a three-member bench headed Chief Justice J S Khehar. Rohatgi represents a consortium of 12 banks led by the State Bank of India.

The application reflects the apprehension that repayment would be severely affected if the court were to restrain the company from using its spectrum.  The court is likely to consider the plea on February 3.

 The move comes in the wake of the court’s order on January 6 proposing to restrain Aircel from using its spectrum licence if T Ananda Krishnan, owner of the Malaysian company Maxis, fails to comply with the order of the special court trying the scam case.

If Krishnan and Ralph Marshall of Maxis fail to appear within two weeks before the trial court, the 2G licences granted to Aircel could be suspended, legal experts said.

Transfer of rights
The court has stayed any transfer of Aircel’s rights and directed the information and communication technology ministry to devise ways to transfer its 2G spectrum licence to other operators.

The court had passed an order in response to a petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, on behalf of Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO.

While properties of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and Sun Direct TV worth Rs 742 crore were being attached, it was “strange and disturbing” that the assets of Aircel-Maxis in India had not been touched, despite its owner evading court summonses, the NGO had argued.

On August 29, 2014, the CBI had filed a charge sheet in the 2G special court that Maran had hatched a criminal conspiracy with Krishnan and coerced the original promoter of Aircel to sell his shares to Krishnan. In lieu, the Maxis Group invested Rs 650 crore in Sun Direct TV (owned by Maran brothers), according to the CBI.

 The NGO also claimed the company was attempting to quickly sell its spectrum to Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications for thousands of crores, and exit the market with huge profits.
DH News Service

Rs 20,000 cr at stake
Among the 12 banks petitioning the court are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank.
They are worried Aircel will not be able to pay them their dues of about Rs 20,000 crore if its spectrum licence is cancelled.

CBI charge sheet says
Anand Krishnan, owner of Malaysia-based Maxis, forced the original promoter of Aircel to sell him his shares.
Krishnan was helped along by Dayanidhi Maran, the then minister of telecommunication.
As a quid pro quo, Krishnan invested Rs 650 crore in Sun Direct TV, owned by the Maran brothers.

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