Recently, the Supreme Court, in the case of Gaurav Agarwal vs CA Devang P. Sampat, has issued notice to the parties for adjudicating the crucial question of law pertaining to the ‘Period of Limitation’ for preferring an appeal under Section 61 of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“the Code”).Continue Reading Limitation under Section 61 of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: Too Strict Interpretation of the Law?
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (“Hon’ble SC”) in its recent judgment dated March 27, 2023, in State Bank of India & Ors. v. Rajesh Agarwal & Ors.[i], has conclusively decided on the question of whether the principles of natural justice should be read into the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) (Fraud Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks and Select FIs) Directions, 2016[ii] (“Master Directions on Frauds”). The question, which has been pending before various High Courts and was raised before the Hon’ble SC in numerous appeals, has now been answered in the affirmative by the Hon’ble SC by holding that the principles of natural justice, particularly the rule of audi alteram partem, has to be necessarily read into the Master Directions on Frauds to save it from vice of arbitrariness as classification of an account as fraud entails serious civil consequences for the borrowers.Continue Reading Principles of Natural Justice Prevail: Supreme Court Reads Rule of Audi Alteram Partem into Master Directions on Frauds
On July 12, 2022, the Supreme Court of India (“Supreme Court”) passed a judgment in Vidarbha Industries Power Limited v. Axis Bank Limited (“Vidarbha”), which considered the question whether Section 7(5)(a) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”), is mandatory or discretionary in nature. Section 7(5)(a) of the Code states that the National Company Law Tribunal (“NCLT”) “may” admit an Application filed under Section 7 of the Code (“Application”), if (a) a default has occurred; (b) the Application is complete; and (c) there is no disciplinary proceeding pending against the proposed resolution professional. The Supreme Court held that Section 7(5)(a) of the Code allows the NCLT to reject an Application even if the financial creditor establishes ‘debt’ and ‘default’ on the part of the corporate debtor.Continue Reading The Vidarbha Aftermath
The increased sophistication with which mammoth corporates, mid-segment businesses and even small & gig economy players conduct their businesses today has bred a trusting atmosphere in which entities are willing to accept amicable forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation, instead of turning to traditional litigation. Commercial entities are benefited from this shift since it helps them to maintain a healthy business relationship with their contemporaries even in the face of commercial disputes that may arise in the course of business, without having to compromise on confidentiality or reputation.Continue Reading Compulsory Pre-Litigation Mediation for Commercial Suits – A Boon or a Bane?
Kompetenz-kompetenz, allowing the arbitral tribunal to rule on its own jurisdiction, is one of the fundamental principles of arbitration. In Indian arbitration law, this is captured in Section 16 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”). This is further emphasised in Indian Farmer Fertilizer Cooperative Limited v. Bhadara Products (2018) 2 SCC 534 (“IFFCO Judgment”), wherein the Supreme Court has held that ‘jurisdiction’ mentioned in Section 16 has reference to three things: (1) existence of a valid arbitration agreement, (2) whether arbitral tribunal is properly constituted and (3) whether matters submitted to arbitration are in accordance with the arbitration agreement. Clearly, the existence of a valid arbitration agreement falls within the scope of jurisdictional matters to be determined by the arbitral tribunal.Continue Reading Scope of Scrutiny of An Arbitration Agreement in a Section 9 Petition Filed before Commencement of Arbitral Proceedings
The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) passed an order (Order) recently, ruling that it is empowered to hear and decide appeals even in the absence of a Technical Member. The Order was prompted by an objection raised by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regarding the constitution of SAT’s Bench, in light of the earlier technical member of SAT having demitted office on March 31, 2021, and the ensuing vacancy of such office.
Continue Reading Technicality or Trivialisation? SAT’s Attempt to Balance Interests of Justice
The Supreme Court’s pro-insolvency stance continues. With three recent rulings in a period of one month, the Supreme Court has clearly indicated that, so far as possible within the contours of the Limitation Act, a debt will continue to be alive and an action basis such debt will be maintainable under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Insolvency Code”) against a defaulting borrower.
Continue Reading Limitation Act is to be made applicable ‘as far as may be possible’ to Insolvency Code
As the Insolvency regime in India builds its new course under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (‘Insolvency Code’), numerous issues of application have arisen and will continue to grapple the corridors of the insolvency courts. One of the concerns is the interaction between debt enforcement/ execution procedures and the Insolvency Code. Insolvency Code allows operational creditors to initiate insolvency proceedings against a debtor, with a valid proof of undisputed claim. Form 5 of the IBBI (Application to Adjudication Authority) Rules, 2016, under which an Operational Creditor makes an application for initiation of insolvency process, considers a court decree or an arbitration award adjudicating on the default as a valid evidence of default to support insolvency commencement. The all-encompassing term ‘Arbitration Award’ includes both domestic awards and foreign awards. While the domestic awards are per se enforceable before the civil courts, unless stayed in a challenge before the court, and no distinct process for enforcement needs to be complied with under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (‘Arbitration Act’), foreign awards must follow a procedure of recognition, prior to being considered as enforceable before Indian courts. The Rules, however, shed no light on issues such as, at what stage the arbitration awards are eligible to be presented before the insolvency courts for insolvency commencement.
Continue Reading Enforcement of Arbitration Awards via Insolvency Proceedings: A Contrary Perspective
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“PMLA”) has proven to be a revolutionary legislation and is certainly one of its kind. The nature of the statute and the utmost necessity that it be enforced in a manner that fulfils the legislative intent thereby creating economic security as well as the nation’s requirements have resulted in wide powers being granted to the Enforcement Directorate (“ED”). Although there are significant judgments that have set the law straight, both procedural and substantive, or at least strived to, a fascinating, albeit controversial judgment has been passed by the High Court of Bombay recently in Babulal Verma and Ors. vs. Enforcement Directorate and Ors (“Babulal Judgment”).
Continue Reading “A predicate offence is the sine qua non for the offence of money laundering” – IS IT REALLY?
The Supreme Court in the case of Avitel Post Studioz Limited v. HSBC PI Holdings (Mauritius) Limited (“Avitel Case”) has recently engaged with the question of whether allegations of fraud can be adjudicated in arbitration, or whether they require adjudication before a court. In its judgment, the Court has laid down clear tests to determine when a dispute involving allegation of fraud is arbitrable, and when it would require adjudication before a court.
Continue Reading Avitel v. HSBC – Finality on the Question of Arbitrability when Allegations of Fraud are Raised SMM