The Supreme Court has come down hard on SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh, warning him he will be sent to Tihar jail for non-compliance with its order on making payment to global investment bank and financial services firm Credit Suisse AG.
The top court asked Singh to pay ₹5,00,000 towards an instalment to the Swiss firm along with ₹1 million defaulted amount.
“We have to move to the next drastic step. We are not worried even if you shut down,” a bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah observed.
Irked over the “dilly-dally business”, the bench told Mr. Singh that he will have to abide by the consent terms and warned, “We are not bothered even if you die. It is too much. We will send you to Tihar jail, if you do not pay.” The court’s fulmination came on Monday when it asked Mr. Singh and the company secretary of SpiceJet to be present during the hearings and make the payment. It posted the matter for further hearing on September 22.
In a statement, the airline said, “SpiceJet acknowledges the legal process and is committed to complying with all court’s directives and obligations in the Credit Suisse case and will make the payment of ₹1.5 million as per the court directive. Till date, SpiceJet has already paid a total of ₹8 million to Credit Suisse.”
“SpiceJet remains committed to the highest standards of transparency and legal compliance. This liability is an old one and predates the current promoter taking over the company,” it said.
According to the Swiss firm, SpiceJet had availed the services of SR Technics, Switzerland, for maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft engines, modules, components, assemblies, and parts, which were mandatory for its operations.
An agreement for such services was entered into between SpiceJet and SR Technics on November 24, 2011 for 10 years. The terms of payments were also agreed upon.
SR Technics had given Credit Suisse the right to receive payments from SpiceJet for the services.
The apex court had on July 25 given additional time to SpiceJet to make the payment to Credit Suisse as per the consent terms agreed upon by the two parties.
The top court was hearing a plea by the Swiss firm seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Singh and SpiceJet over “a wilful and intentional disobedience” of court orders and failure to pay dues as per a settlement between the two sides.
On August 14, the bench while issuing contempt notices to Mr. Singh and SpiceJet had noted the submission of the Swiss firm that the apex court had granted indulgence and withdrawn the airline from liquidation only in view of the consent terms dated May 23, 2022 by which ₹500,000 was to be paid every month by the low-cost carrier to the company from July 15, 2020.
“It was submitted that, though as of now more than 6.5 million U.S. dollars has to be deposited, but only a little over 2 million U.S. dollars has been deposited,” the bench had noted the submission of counsel appearing for Credit Suisse in its August 14 order.
SpiceJet and Credit Suisse had told the Supreme Court on August 18, 2022 about the resolution of their financial dispute which led to the withdrawal of an appeal by the low-cost airline against a Madras High Court order for its winding up due to alleged non-payment of dues to the Swiss firm.
“There is a settlement which has taken place on May 23, 2022, as per the consent terms. In view of it, both the parties are satisfied with the settlement and want to withdraw the SLP (special leave petition) filed by the petitioner.
“Accordingly, the application is allowed,” the top court had said in its order.
The had directed the parties to abide by the consent terms.
On the appeal of SpiceJet, the top court had on January 28, 2022 stayed the publication of the winding up notice and the order directing the official liquidator attached to the Madras High Court to take over the assets of the low-cost airline.
It had also asked SpiceJet to resolve the financial dispute with the Swiss firm.