The National Company Law Tribunal, Kochi Bench, has been re-constituted vide a Circular dated 01.07.2022, issued by NCLT as per Section 419(3) of the Companies Act, 2013. The new Kochi Bench shall comprise of:
- Dr. Deepti Mukesh (Judicial Member)
- Shri Ajai Das Mehrotra (Technical Member)
The reconstituted Bench shall first take up matters of the NCLT Ahmedabad (Court No. 2) and then attend the matters of NCLT Kochi in the second half. The matters are to be heard through Video Conferencing.
The re-constitution has been done in view of the retirement of fifteen NCLT Members on 03.07.2022. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs vide a notification dated 20.09.2019 ("Notification") had appointed 23 NCLT Members for a term of 3 years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. However, Section 413 of the Companies Act, 2013 prescribes the term of the Members as 5 years.
The Central Government had granted extension of tenure to eight out of the twenty-three Members appointed through the Notification, while the remaining Members are retiring on 03.07.2022. Till now the total strength of NCLT Members was forty-five, which will come down to thirty on 3rd July 2022 and thus create a shortage of Members.
The National Company Law Tribunal Bar Association ("NCLTBA") had filed a writ petition titled as National Company Law Tribunal Bar Association v Union of India before the Supreme Court in May 2022, seeking modification of the term of 3 years fixed by the MCA Notification as 5 years. In a hearing held on 20.06.2022, the Supreme Court opined that the appointees had accepted the three years period of appointment in 2019 without any demur and had till date did not raised any challenge against the same. The Supreme Court declined to grant any interim relief and has listed the matter on 20.07.2022.