20 September 2019: Deloitte, the resolution professional (RP) to Reliance Communications (RCom), has filed an application in the National Company Law Tribunal seeking a direction to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that status quo be maintained on spectrum licences, and that they should not be terminated.
Senior advocate Ravi Kadam, representing the RP, told the tribunal that DoT had allegedly threatened to terminate the spectrum licences held by the company, which according to them were a ‘transferable asset’. He also added that it is the only asset with the company and if the licences were to be terminated, any future resolution plan for the corporate debtor would fail.
Ashish Mehta, the lawyer representing DoT, however, informed the tribunal that it had given a showcause notice to the company in March and no fresh notices had been served to RCom since. The two-member bench of the tribunal has directed the DoT to file a reply within the next seven days and allowed the RP to send a rejoinder within seven days of receiving the reply. The tribunal has adjourned hearing on the matter to September 30.
RCom and DoT have been warring over spectrum for months. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had upheld an order by the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) and rejected a plea by DoT that Reliance Jio Infocomm be held liable for RCom’s earlier debt.
DoT had wanted an undertaking from Jio that it would be responsible for RCom’s past spectrum liabilities before approving the deal with RCom. This was in view of TDSAT’s go-ahead to RCom on its proposed spectrum sale to Jio, which would have helped RCom become debt-free. Jio, however, refused to give an undertaking and the deal subsequently collapsed.