SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International) has been accused of "wilful disobedience" of court orders by failing to pay INR500 million rupees (USD6 million) to its former owner Kalanithi Maran and his associated entity KAL Airways by March 18.

The language was used in a March 28 hearing at the Delhi High Court and repeated in orders made by Judge Mini Pushkarna later that day in the matter of KAL Airways Private Limited v. SpiceJet Limited.

The dispute traces back to SpiceJet's 2015 majority ownership transfer between Maran and the LCC's present owner and managing director, Ajay Singh. Warrants and preference shares promised to Maran did not materialise. As a result, in 2018 Maran was awarded INR5.79 billion (USD69.4 million) plus interest. In August 2023, after a series of court challenges and ignored deadlines, the high court declared the 2018 award valid and ordered SpiceJet and Singh to pay in full.

As of mid-2023, factoring in previous partial payments and interest on outstanding amounts, Maran was owed around INR3.8 billion (USD45.6 million). However, since then, the airline has made some further payments. During a February 5 hearing, in which Maran's counsel attempted to have previous payment orders enforced, the court gave SpiceJet and Singh until March 18 to make a further INR500 million payment.

In court last week, Maran's counsel, Maninder Singh, said SpiceJet and its managing director had ignored that order or "wilfully and deliberately not complied" with it. SpiceJet's counsel countered that payment had been made, albeit belatedly, with INR250 million of the sum paid on March 27. There had been no intentionally wilful disregard of previous orders, he added. As of last week, SpiceJet and Ajay Singh still owed Maran INR3.47 billion (USD41.6 million), although a large part of that amount is accrued interest, which continues to compound.

In addition to having Ajay Singh charged with contempt, Maran wants permission to seize SpiceJet's accounts at Yes Bank. Maninder Singh drew the court's attention to SpiceJet's recent INR7.44 billion (USD89.2 million) capital raising and willingness to outlay cash to acquire Go First (GOW, Mumbai International). He said SpiceJet should instead focus on clearing its existing liabilities. Maran's counsel described SpiceJet and Ajay Singh's behaviour towards his client and the court as "wilful contumacious conduct."

The matter returns to court on April 25, 2024.