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Bar Council of India (BCI) has unanimously approved the proposal of Sh. Ved Prakash Sharma, Member, BCI to put moratorium for three years w.e.f the academic year 2020-21, on approval of affiliation of new Law Colleges in the country except for State-run NLUs’.

About Bar Council of India:

The Bar Council of India is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar. They perform the regulatory function by prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar and also sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate.

In addition, they also perform certain representative functions by protecting the rights, privileges and interests of advocates and through the creation of funds for providing financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for them.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A two-member bench comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Chairperson and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Member (Judicial) allowed an appeal filed against an order of National Company Law Tribunal (Mumbai).

The respondent preferred an application under Sections 433 and 434 of the Companies Act, 1956 before the Bombay High Court for winding up of the Corporate Debtor pertaining to a debt of Rs 21,63,359. The case was transferred pursuant to Rule 5 of the Companies (Transfer of Pending Proceedings) Rule, 2016 before National Company Law Tribunal (Mumbai). The respondent therein filed Form 5 to treat the same as an application under Section 9 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 for initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process against the Corporate Debtor. By the order impugned, NCLT admitted the application, passed an order of moratorium and appointed Interim Resolution Professional. The appellant – Director of the Corporate Debtor, challenged the order on the ground that notice under Section 8(1) was issued on the same date when Form 5 was filed.

The Appellate Tribunal perused Section 9 of the I&B Code and observed that an application under Section 9 preferred before the completion of 10 days from the giving of notice under Section 8(1) cannot be entertained and admitted by the Adjudicating Authority. Holding the application under Section  9 as not maintainable on the date on which it was filed, the High Court set aside the order impugned. Resultantly, the order passed by NCLT appointing Interim Resolution Professional, declaring moratorium, freezing of account, etc. were declared illegal. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Jaya Patel v. Gas Jeans (P) Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine NCLAT 783, dated 08-10-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A two-member bench comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Chairperson and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Member (Judicial), allowed an appeal filed against the order of the National Company Law Tribunal, Chennai whereby the appellant was directed to withdraw the complaint case filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The appellant had filed a complaint case under Section 138 against the defendants before the Metropolitan Magistrate after initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process and the order of moratorium. The respondents-Directors moved the NCLT which directed the appellants to withdraw the case treating it as a proceeding filed after order of moratorium with observations that such action amounts to misuse of power. Aggrieved thus, the appellant approached the Appellate Tribunal. The question that arose for consideration was ‘whether the order of moratorium covers a criminal proceeding under Section 138 of the NI Act which provides punishment of imprisonment or imposition of fine’.

It is pertinent to note that Section 14 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 prohibits any proceeding or judgment or decree of money claim against the corporate debtor after the order of moratorium which is passed on the insolvency commencement date. The Appellate Tribunal observed that Section 138 is a penal provision; the imposition of a fine cannot be held to be a money claim or recovery against the Corporate Debtor. As such, the said section is not covered within the purview of Section 14 I&B Code. In fact, no criminal proceeding is covered under the section. It was held that the NCLT failed to appreciate the law, and therefore, the order impugned was set aside. [Shah Brothers Ispat (P) Ltd. v. P. Mohanraj,2018 SCC OnLine NCLAT 415, dated 31-07-2018]

 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal: In the judgment delivered by S.J. Mukhopadhaya (Chairperson), A.I.S. Cheema (Judicial Member) and Balvinder Singh (Technical Member) dismissed all the appeals arising out of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process initiated against the appellants (corporate debtors).

National Company Law Tribunal had admitted the application against the appellants under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and passed an order of moratorium and had further appointed an ‘Interim Resolution Professional’ with certain directions.

The corporate debtor thereafter filed a writ before the Rajasthan High Court, but the High Court refused to look into the merits, so he then moved before the Supreme Court challenging the order passed by the Adjudicating Authority, but the Apex Court also dismissed it, and then further moved before the Appellate Tribunal which was withdrawn later. In the end, the Corporate Debtor, moved before the Arbitral Tribunal and against this action the Insolvency Resolution Professional moved NCLT which decided the matter against the corporate debtor. The Financial Creditor moved before the Supreme Court which allowed the appeal and stated that the arbitration clause cannot be invoked during the period of moratorium.

This Tribunal held the judgment of the Supreme Court to be final and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 each on the appellants in the present case, to be paid by bank draft in favour of the Registrar, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal within thirty days of the receipt of this order. [M/s. Hotel Gaudavan Pvt. Ltd. v. Alchemist Asset Reconstruction Co. Ltd., 2017 SCC OnLine NCLAT 439, decided on 30- 11-2017]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal: Canara Bank, the appellant-financial creditor, challenged the impugned order passed by National Company Law Tribunal, Hyderabad Bench whereby while admitting the application preferred by Appellant under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 passed an order of moratorium thereby prohibiting the institution of suits or continuation of pending suits or proceedings except before the High Courts and Supreme Court of India, against the Corporate Debtor including execution of any judgment, decree or order in any court of law, Tribunal, arbitration panel or other authority.

The counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant contended that the Adjudicating Authority cannot exclude any court from the purview of moratorium for the purpose of recovery of amount or execution of any judgment or decree, including the proceeding, if any, pending before the High Courts and Supreme Court of India against a ‘corporate debtor’. NCLAT while adjudicating the matter opined that Section 14 relates to ‘Moratorium’ which the Adjudicating Authority is required to declare at the time of admission of the application for ‘corporate insolvency resolution The NCLAT stated that,

“from Section 14(1) (a), it was clear that institution of suits or continuation of pending suits or proceedings against the corporate debtor including execution of any judgment, decree or order by any court of law, tribunal, arbitration panel or other authority come within the purview of ‘moratorium’ and that the said provision specifically did not exclude any Court, including the Hon’ble High Courts or Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”

The NCLAT, dismissing the appeal, and further clarifying the impugned order passed by Tribunal relating to ‘moratorium’ held in clear terms that,

“The Hon’ble Supreme Court has power under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and Hon’ble High Court under Article 226 of Constitution of India which power cannot be curtailed by any provision of an Act or a Court. In view of the aforesaid provision of law, we make it clear that ‘moratorium’ will not affect any suit or case pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India or where an order is passed under Article 136 of Constitution of India. ‘Moratorium’ will also not affect the power of the High Court under Article 226 of Constitution of India. However, so far as suit, if filed before any High Court under original jurisdiction which is a money suit or suit for recovery, against the ‘corporate debtor’ such suit cannot proceed after declaration of ‘moratorium’, under Section 14 of the I&B Code.”

 [Canara Bank v. Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited, 2017 SCC OnLine NCLAT 255, decided on 14.9.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question relating to applicability of the Maharashtra Relief Undertakings (Special Provisions Act), 1958 vis-a-vis the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016, the bench of RF Nariman and SK Kaul, JJ held that the State law is repugnant to the Parliamentary enactment as under the said State law, the moratorium imposed under Section 4 of the Maharashtra Act directly clashes with the moratorium to be issued under Sections 13 and 14 of the Code.

Explaining the scheme of both the Laws, the Court said that the moment initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process takes place, a moratorium is announced by the adjudicating authority vide Sections 13 and 14 of the Code, by which institution of suits and pending proceedings etc. cannot be proceeded with. This continues until the approval of a resolution plan under Section 31 of the said Code. In the interim, an interim resolution professional is appointed under Section 16 to manage the affairs of corporate debtors under Section 17 of the Code.

It was further explained that whereas the moratorium imposed under the Maharashtra Act is discretionary and may relate to one or more of the matters contained in Section 4(1), the moratorium imposed under the Code relates to all matters listed in Section 14 and follows as a matter of course. Hence, unless the Maharashtra Act is out of the way, the Parliamentary enactment will be hindered and obstructed in such a manner that it will not be possible to go ahead with the insolvency resolution process outlined in the Code. Further, the non-obstante clause contained in Section 4 of the Maharashtra Act cannot possibly be held to apply to the Central enactment, inasmuch as a matter of constitutional law, the later Central enactment being repugnant to the earlier State enactment by virtue of Article 254 (1), would operate to render the Maharashtra Act void vis-à-vis action taken under the later Central enactment

It was, hence, held that by giving effect to the State law, the aforesaid plan or scheme which may be adopted under the Parliamentary statute will directly be hindered and/or obstructed to that extent in that the management of the relief undertaking, which, if taken over by the State Government, would directly impede or come in the way of the taking over of the management of the corporate body by the interim resolution professional. Hence, the Code would prevail against the Maharashtra Act in view of the non-obstante clause in Section 238 of the Code. [Innoventive Industries Ltd. v. ICICI Bank, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1025, decided on 31.08.2017]