The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on February 3 the SBI-led consortium of banks’ intervention plea in the Aircel-Maxis case. The consortium of 12 PSU banks, including PNB, Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank, apprehends that if the telecom company is restrained from earning revenue by using the 2G spectrum, all the lenders would be severely affected due to non-payment of their outstanding dues of Rs 20,000 crore.
A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said it would hear the plea on February 3, when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi sought urgent hearing on the ground that the the banks have substantial exposure in the Chennai-based telecom company. He said the carrier owed the banks a total of Rs 20,000 crore.
According to the consortium, the shares of Aircel are secured with them and cannot be transferred or sold by shareholders without its consent. Earlier on January 6, the apex court had restrained Malaysia’s Maxis from selling or transferring its 2G spectrum, which it had obtained from Aircel in 2006, to Airtel and ADAG’s Reliance Communications.
Threatening to cancel its use of spectrum if Maxis Group promoter and billionaire T Ananda Krishnan continued to evade appearance before Indian courts, the court had asked Krishnan and Ralph Marshall, a senior executive of the Maxis Group, to appear before the special CBI court within two weeks in connection with an alleged corruption case and explain non-appearance despite summons if they wanted this order to be altered.
To ensure that 65 million Aircel subscribers are not affected, the CJI also asked the telecom ministry “to devise ways and means whereby the earlier licences of 2G spectrum, which were originally granted to Aircel in 2006, can be transferred provisionally to other service providers”.