Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016

NOIDA stands in the shoes of an operational creditor

Introduction

The resolution process for real estate companies is anything but simple, given the complexities involved and the plethora of parties with varied and conflicting interests. One such issue was whether local industrial development authorities, in particular the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (“NOIDA”), should be classified as financial creditors or operational creditors, by virtue of the lease deeds they enter into with various corporate debtors.

The question has now finally been answered. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide its judgment dated May 17, 2022, in the case of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority v. Anand Sonbhadra[1], has now declared that NOIDA is not a financial creditor and would be classified as an operational creditor under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (the “Code”). The issue involved in the Anand Sonbhadra (supra.) judgment was whether 90 year leases entered into between NOIDA and real estate companies give rise to a financial or operational debt in the event that corporate insolvency resolution proceedings are initiated against such real estate companies.

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Interpreting Limitation Provisions

Introduction

The Supreme Court of India, in a recent judgment, reiterated that the limitation period for filing of an appeal against the order of the National Company Law Tribunal (“NCLT”) as laid down under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”) has to be interpreted strictly.

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Appropriate forum for Insolvency of Personal Guarantors

Introduction

The provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (the “Code”) in relation to personal guarantors (“PG”) to corporate debtor (“Corporate Debtor”) have been effective since December 1, 2019. However, whether a corporate insolvency resolution process (“CIRP”) (or even a pending application to initiate such a process) against the Corporate Debtor is a pre-requisite for initiation of insolvency resolution process or bankruptcy process against the PG under the Code (“PG Proceedings”) before the National Company Law Tribunal (“NCLT”) has been a question that continued to vex the judicial for some time, until recently the Honourable Supreme Court, in Mahendra Kumar Jajodia v. SBI Stressed Assets Management Branch (“Mahendra Kumar Case”),[1] upheld the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (“NCLAT”) order holding that the NCLT has jurisdiction over PG Proceedings, regardless of any CIRP or liquidation proceedings pending against the Corporate Debtor before it.

This blog analyses the background, the developments so far and the position after the Apex Court’s order.

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Karnataka High Court’s Judgment in Dreamz Infra India Limited v. Competent Authority - Yet another manifestation of primacy of the IBC

Since the introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code/IBC”), the courts and tribunals in India have had to constantly assess the application of the Code vis-à-vis other central and state legislations in light of the non-obstante clause under Section 238 of the Code.  The courts have time and again reiterated that the Code would have an overriding effect over other legislations to the extent of being repugnant  to the matters exhaustively dealt with under the Code. The courts have re-affirmed the primacy of the Code based on the premise that the IBC is a ‘complete and consolidated code in itself.’ For example, in Innoventive Industries Ltd. vs. ICICI Bank and Ors. (“Innoventive”), the Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the primacy of the Code over the Maharashtra Relief Undertakings (Special Provisions) Act, 1958 and in Directorate of Enforcement vs. Manoj Kumar Agarwal & Ors (“Manoj Kumar Agarwal case”), the Hon’ble National Company Law Appellate Tribunal  (“NCLAT”) noted that the  provisions of the Code shall override the attachment of the properties of the Corporate Debtor under Sections 5 and 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.[1]
Continue Reading Karnataka High Court’s Judgment in Dreamz Infra India Limited v. Competent Authority: Yet another manifestation of primacy of the IBC

Jaypee Judgement – Assessing it’s impact on the Indian financing landscape

Background

On February 26, 2020, the Hon’ble Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the Jaypee matter, bringing to a close the long drawn litigation between two sets of competing creditor claims i.e. those advanced by certain creditors of Jaypee Infratech Limited (JIL) and those of its holding company, Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL).

In its ruling, the Supreme Court addressed two key issues:
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Evolving Private Equity Trends in India – Buyout Transactions

INTRODUCTION

Private equity (PE) transactions in India conventionally comprised minority investments in Indian companies. However, maturing market conditions and an increasingly favourable regulatory landscape have been providing tailwinds to PE firms to undertake buyout transactions. Many PE firms investing in India have gained significant experience to deal with the governance and regulatory risks that Indian markets pose. This enables them to leverage their expertise from running businesses globally to managing businesses in India.
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THE ROAD TO RESOLUTION OF FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS - IBC

 

The Imperative for a distinct framework for the resolution of financial firms

The financial sector is facing a combination of liquidity, governance and business issues, on account of which certain Non Banking Financial Companies (“NBFCs”) are facing solvency concerns.

The severe liquidity crunch for NBFCs was caused  as banks and other financial institutions have curtailed refinancing the loans of NBFCs on account of which several NBFCs and other financial institutions faced debt servicing and solvency issues. These have sought to be resolved through the Stressed Asset Directions issued by the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) on June 7, 2019. This was fraught with complexities given the diverse sets creditor, including market borrowings  each of whom were governed by different financial regulators.
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 Recent Maha RERA Directions on Change in Promoter

The real estate sector post enactment of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (Act) is witnessing major consolidation primarily on account of financial constraints faced by small and mid-sized developers. Such consolidation has resulted in developers looking to either exit from their existing projects or enter into collaboration with large established developers for completing such projects.

Hence, in the present scenario, it is of the utmost importance for the industry to know the present legal regime under RERA dealing with new developers / promoters taking over an ongoing projects from existing promoters or from lenders during the process of enforcement of their security over the project.
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Is Liquidation Irreversible - Schemes of Compromise in Liquidation

The 2005 Report of the Expert Committee on Company Law (JJ Irani Committee Report) had noted that an effective insolvency law:

should strike a balance between rehabilitation and liquidation. It should provide an opportunity for genuine effort to explore restructuring/ rehabilitation of potentially viable businesses with consensus of stakeholders reasonably arrived at. Where revival / rehabilitation is demonstrated as not being feasible, winding up should be resorted to.

Where circumstances justify, the process should allow for easy conversion of proceedings from one procedure to another. This will provide opportunity to businesses in liquidation to turnaround wherever possible. Similarly, conversion to liquidation might be appropriate even after a rehabilitation plan has been approved if such a plan was procured by fraud or the plan can no longer be implemented”.
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RBI Circular - Insolvency and Bankruptcy Blog

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Dharani Sugars and Chemicals Limited vs. Union of India is examined herein.

The Supreme Court in Dharani Sugars and Chemicals Limited vs. Union of India & Others (Dharani Sugars) has struck down the circular dated February 12, 2018, containing the revised framework for resolution of stressed assets (RBI Circular) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the ground of it being ultra vires Section 35AA of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (Banking Regulation Act).

Section 35AA was introduced by Parliament in 2017 to confer power on Central Government to authorise the RBI to give directions to any bank or banks to initiate an insolvency resolution process under the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) in respect of ‘a default’. The RBI Circular was challenged, inter alia, on the basis that Section 35AA does not empower the RBI to issue directions for reference to the IBC of all cases without considering specific defaults.

Continue Reading Dharani Sugars v. Union of India: RBI’s Regulatory Powers Re-affirmed by the Supreme Court