State-owned telecom firm BSNL will approach the National Company Law Tribunal this week to recover dues of about Rs 700 crore from Reliance Communications, according to official sources.
Earlier, debt-ridden R-Com in its plea before the National Company Law Appelate Tribunal (NCLAT) said that it wanted to voluntarily go back into the insolvency process as it would help to sell its assets in a time-bound manner.
It had moved the appellate tribunal, seeking directions to the 37 lenders led by the SBI to release Rs 260 crore directly to Ericsson. However, the lenders of R-Com have opposed the plea, saying it will lead to an outgo of public money for settling the payment of a private party.
“BSNL has already invoked a bank guarantee of around Rs 100 crore submitted by R-Com for default on payments. Decision was taken on January 4 by BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava to start legal proceedings against R-Com for recovery of dues of around Rs 700 crore,” the sources said.
BSNL has brought in Singh and Kohli law firm for the suit. The case filing got delayed because of the collection of invoices from all circle offices.
R-Com has been struggling to pay Rs 453 crore of the Rs 550 crore to Ericsson under a settlement reached between the two firms before the NCLAT.
The Supreme Court has given time till March 19 to R-Com to make payments to Ericsson, failing which its chairman Anil Ambani will have to serve a three-month jail term.
R-Com has already paid Rs 118 crore to Ericsson. It approached the NCLAT to direct the SBI to release Rs 260 crore, which the company has received as income tax refund in trust and retentionship account held at the public sector bank as it will help the company to pay Ericsson and purge contempt of court.
The NCLAT on Friday declined to issue any direction to the SBI and has asked for an update on the development with regard to the payment of the Ericsson due on March 19. The tribunal will hear the case of April 8.