India’s Supreme Court has warned that it will strip wireless provider Aircel of its spectrum resources if Malaysian businessman Ananda Krishnan’s does not appear in court to respond to allegations of bribery by 3 February 2017, the Economic Times reports. The billionaire controls Aircel’s parent company Maxis Communications, which has been accused of paying a INR7.13 billion (USD105.04 million) bribe to secure spectrum in 2006. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) brought charges against Mr Krishnan – along with two other officials and the telecom minister at the time, Dayanidhi Maran – in 2014, and issued warrants for his arrest in September 2016 after several summons were ignored.
In issuing its ultimatum, the court said: ‘We can’t allow anyone to use the assets of this country and run away from the process of law … if he wants to use the spectrum, he must come here and face the law.’ In the meantime, the court has put a temporary halt on Aircel selling or transferring its spectrum assets. Further, it has requested the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to devise a way to ensure Aircel’s customers are not adversely affected and can continue to receive services from an alternative provider in the event that the apex court cancels the cellco’s spectrum licences.