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Supreme Court Quarterly Digest on IBC [July - September, 2022]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
4 Nov 2022 1:15 PM GMT
Supreme Court Quarterly Digest on IBC [July - September, 2022]
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Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 - There can be no dispute with the proposition that the period of limitation for making an application under Section 7 or 9 of the IBC is three years from the date of accrual of the right to sue, that is, the date of default. (Para 56) Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. Kew Precision Parts Pvt. Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 673 Insolvency and Bankruptcy...

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 - There can be no dispute with the proposition that the period of limitation for making an application under Section 7 or 9 of the IBC is three years from the date of accrual of the right to sue, that is, the date of default. (Para 56) Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. Kew Precision Parts Pvt. Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 673

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 -There is no specific period of limitation prescribed in the Limitation Act, 1963, for an application under the IBC, before the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT). An application for which no period of limitation is provided anywhere else in the Schedule to the Limitation Act, is governed by Article 137 of the Schedule to the said Act. Under Article 137 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act, the period of limitation prescribed for such an application is three years from the date of accrual of the right to apply. (Para 55) Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. Kew Precision Parts Pvt. Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 673

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - If the Resolution Plan ignores the statutory demands payable to any State Government or a legal authority, altogether, the Adjudicating Authority is bound to reject the Resolution Plan - If a company is unable to pay its debts, which should include its statutory dues to the Government and/or other authorities and there is no plan which contemplates dissipation of those debts in a phased manner, uniform proportional reduction, the company would necessarily have to be liquidated and its assets sold and distributed in the manner stipulated in Section 53 of the IBC - The Committee of Creditors, which might include financial institutions and other financial creditors, cannot secure their own dues at the cost of statutory dues owed to any Government or Governmental Authority or for that matter, any other dues. (Para 52-54) State Tax Officer v. Rainbow Papers Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 743

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - Intended to consolidate and amend the laws with a view to reorganize Corporate Debtors and resolve insolvency in a time bound manner for maximization of the value of the assets of the Corporate Debtor - The statute deals with and/or tackles insolvency and bankruptcy. It is certainly not the object of the IBC to penalize solvent companies, temporarily defaulting in repayment of its financial debts, by initiation of CIRP. (Para 80 - 81) Vidarbha Industries Power Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 587

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - Limitation Act, 1963; Section 14,18 - IBC does not exclude the application of Section 14 or 18 or any other provision of the Limitation Act. (Para 81) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - NCLT admitted an application for initiating CIRP filed by operational creditor - NCLAT set it aside - Supreme Court dismissed and held: NCLT committed a grave error of law by admitting the application of the Operational Creditor, even though there was a pre-existing dispute as noted by it. SS Engineers v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd; 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 617

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - The IBC is not just a statute for recovery of debts. It is also not a statute which only prescribes the modalities of liquidation of a corporate body, unable to pay its debts. It is essentially a statute which works towards the revival of a corporate body, unable to pay its debts, by appointment of a Resolution Professional. (Para 55) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - The Legislature has consciously differentiated between Financial Creditors and Operational Creditors, as there is an innate difference between Financial Creditors, in the business of investment and financing, and Operational Creditors in the business of supply of goods and services. Financial credit is usually secured and of much longer duration. Such credits, which are often long term credits, on which the operation of the Corporate Debtor depends, cannot be equated to operational debts which are usually unsecured, of a shorter duration and of lesser amount. The financial strength and nature of business of a Financial Creditor cannot be compared with that of an Operational Creditor, engaged in supply of goods and services. The impact of the non-payment of admitted dues could be far more serious on an Operational Creditor than on a financial creditor. (Para 78) Vidarbha Industries Power Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 587

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 - Various stages involved in the corporate insolvency process in India discussed. (Para 34) Sundaresh Bhatt, Liquidator of ABG Shipyard v. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 715

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 12A - National Company Law Tribunal Rules, 2016; Rule 11 - Section 12A clearly permits withdrawal of an application under Section 7 IBC that has been admitted - The question of approval of the Committee of Creditors by the requisite percentage of votes, can only arise after the Committee of Creditors is constituted - Before the Committee of Creditors is constituted, there is no bar to withdrawal by the applicant of an application admitted under Section 7 IBC - The settlement cannot be stifled before the constitution of the Committee of Creditors in anticipation of claims against the Corporate Debtor from third persons. The withdrawal of an application for CIRP by the applicant would not prevent any other financial creditor from taking recourse to a proceeding under IBC. The urgency to abide by the timelines for completion of the resolution process is not a reason to stifle the settlement - Rule 11 of the NCLT Rules enables the NCLT to pass orders for the ends of justice including order permitting an applicant for CIRP to withdraw its application and to enable a corporate body to carry on business with ease, free of any impediment. (Para 23-30) Ashok G. Rajani v. Beacon Trusteeship Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 790

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 14 - Moratorium on the initiation of CIRP proceedings and its effects - One of the purposes of the moratorium is to keep the assets of the Corporate Debtor together during the insolvency resolution process and to facilitate orderly completion of the processes envisaged under the statute. Such measures ensure the curtailing of parallel proceedings and reduce the possibility of conflicting outcomes in the process - one of the motivations of imposing a moratorium is for Section 14(1)(a), (b), and (c) of the IBC to form a shield that protects pecuniary attacks against the Corporate Debtor. This is done in order to provide the Corporate Debtor with breathing space, to allow it to continue as a going concern and rehabilitate itself. (Para 36) Sundaresh Bhatt, Liquidator of ABG Shipyard v. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 715

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 3(30)- Secured Creditor - A creditor in favour of whom security interest is credited - Such security interest could be created by operation of law. The definition of secured creditor in the IBC does not exclude any Government or Governmental Authority. (Para 57) State Tax Officer v. Rainbow Papers Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 743

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 30(2) - A resolution plan which does not meet the requirements of Sub Section (2) of Section 30 of the IBC, would be invalid and not binding on the Central Government, any State Government, any statutory or other authority, any financial creditor, or other creditor to whom a debt in respect of dues arising under any law for the time being in force is owed. Such a resolution plan would not bind the State when there are outstanding statutory dues of a Corporate Debtor. (Para 48) State Tax Officer v. Rainbow Papers Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 743

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 31(2) - If a Resolution Plan is ex facie not in conformity with law and/or the provisions of IBC and/or the Rules and Regulations framed thereunder, the Resolution would have to be rejected - Even if Section 31(2) is construed to confer discretionary power on the Adjudicating Authority to reject a Resolution Plan, it has to be kept in mind that discretionary power cannot be exercised arbitrarily, whimsically or without proper application of mind to the facts and circumstances which require discretion to be exercised one way or the other. (Para 50-51) State Tax Officer v. Rainbow Papers Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 743

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 53 - Gujarat Value Added Tax, 2003; Section 48 - Section 48 of the GVAT Act is not contrary to or inconsistent with Section 53 or any other provisions of the IBC- Under Section 53(1)(b)(ii), the debts owed to a secured creditor, which would include the State under the GVAT Act, are to rank equally with other specified debts including debts on account of workman's dues for a period of 24 months preceding the liquidation commencement date. (Para 56) State Tax Officer v. Rainbow Papers Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 743

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - An application under Section 7 of the IBC would not be barred by limitation, on the ground that it had been filed beyond a period of three years from the date of declaration of the loan account of the Corporate Debtor as NPA, if there were an acknowledgement of the debt by the Corporate Debtor before expiry of the period of limitation of three years, in which case the period of limitation would get extended by a further period of three years. (Para 97) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - CIRP can be initiated against the Corporate Guarantor without proceeding against the principal borrower - The liability of the guarantor is co-extensive with that of the Principal Borrower. (Para 13-16) K. Paramasivam v. Karur Vysya Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 742

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - Limitation Act, 1963; Section 18 - Entries in Books of Account/Balance sheet of a company can be treated as acknowledgement of liability in respect of debt payable to a financial creditor. (Para 85) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - Pleadings - An application under Section 7 in the prescribed form cannot be compared with the plaint in a suit, and cannot be judged by the same standards, as a plaint in a suit, or any other pleadings in a Court of law - There is no scope for elaborate pleadings - Documents filed along with the application, or later, and subsequent affidavits and applications would have to be construed as part of the pleadings. (Para 49,76) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - The approval of a resolution in respect of one borrower cannot certainly discharge a co-borrower - If there are two borrowers or if two corporate bodies fall within the ambit of corporate debtors, there is no reason why proceedings under Section 7 of the IBC cannot be initiated against both the Corporate Debtors - The same amount cannot be realised from both the Corporate Debtors. If the dues are realised in part from one Corporate Debtor, the balance may be realised from the other Corporate Debtor being the co-borrower. However, once the claim of the Financial Creditor is discharged, there can be no question of recovery of the claim twice over. (Para 36-37) Maitreya Doshi v. Anand Rathi Global Finance Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 789

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7 - The period of limitation for making an application under Section 7 or 9 of the IBC is three years from the date of accrual of the right to sue, that is, the date of default. (Para 69) Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd. v. Tulip Star Hotels Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 648

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7(5)(a) - Ordinarily, the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) would have to exercise its discretion to admit an application under Section 7 of the IBC of the IBC and initiate CIRP on satisfaction of the existence of a financial debt and default on the part of the Corporate Debtor in payment of the debt, unless there are good reasons not to admit the petition - It has to consider the grounds made out by the Corporate Debtor against admission, on its own merits. (Para 87 - 88) Vidarbha Industries Power Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 587

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7(5)(a) - The Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) has been conferred the discretion to admit the application of the Financial Creditor. If facts and circumstances so warrant, the Adjudicating Authority can keep the admission in abeyance or even reject the application. Of course, in case of rejection of an application, the Financial Creditor is not denuded of the right to apply afresh for initiation of CIRP, if its dues continue to remain unpaid - The Adjudicating Authority might examine the expedience of initiation of CIRP, taking into account all relevant facts and circumstances, including the overall financial health and viability of the Corporate Debtor. The Adjudicating Authority may in its discretion not admit the application of a Financial Creditor. (Para 77 - 79) Vidarbha Industries Power Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 587

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7(5)(b) - when the Adjudicating Authority is satisfied that default has not occurred or the application is incomplete or any disciplinary proceeding is pending against the proposed resolution professional, it may, by order, reject such application - provided it shall, before rejecting the application, give a notice to the applicant to rectify the defect in his application within seven days of receipt of such notice from the Adjudicating Authority - the provision would extent to appeals - appeal is the continuation of original proceedings. (Para 70) Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited v. Kew Precision Parts Pvt. Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 673

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 7-9 - Noticeable differences in the IBC between the procedure of initiation of CIRP by a financial creditor and by an operational creditor -The NCLT is not a debt collection forum. (Para 31-32) SS Engineers v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd; 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 617

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 8-9 - If the claim is undisputed and the operational debt remains unpaid, CIRP must commence- IBC does not countenance dishonesty or deliberate failure to repay the dues of an Operational Creditor. (Para 31-32) SS Engineers v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd; 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 617

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 8-9 - if the debt is disputed, the application of the Operational Creditor for initiation of CIRP must be dismissed - CIRP should be initiated to penalize solvent companies for non-payment of disputed dues claimed by an operational creditor. (Para 31-32) SS Engineers v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd; 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 617

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Section 9 - Section 9(5)(a) mandatory - An application of an Operational Creditor for initiation of CIRP under Section 9(2) of the IBC is mandatorily required to be admitted if the application is complete in all respects and in compliance of the 28 requisites of the IBC and the rules and regulations thereunder, there is no payment of the unpaid operational debt, if notices for payment or the invoice has been delivered to the Corporate Debtor by the Operational Creditor and no notice of dispute has been received by the Operational Creditor. The IBC does not countenance dishonesty or deliberate failure to repay the dues of an operational creditor. (Para 76) Vidarbha Industries Power Ltd. v. Axis Bank Ltd., 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 587

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; Sections 14, 33(5) - Customs Act, 1961 - IBC would prevail over Customs Act, to the extent that once moratorium is imposed in terms of Sections 14 or 33(5) of the IBC as the case may be, the respondent authority only has a limited jurisdiction to assess/determine the quantum of customs duty and other levies. The customs authority does not have the power to initiate recovery of dues by means of sale/confiscation, as provided under the Customs Act - Once moratorium is imposed in terms of Sections 14 or 33(5) of the IBC as the case may be, the respondent authority only has a limited jurisdiction to assess/determine the quantum of customs duty and other levies. The respondent authority does not have the power to initiate recovery of dues by means of sale/confiscation, as provided under the Customs Act - After such assessment, the respondent authority has to submit its claims (concerning customs dues/operational debt) in terms of the procedure laid down, in strict compliance of the time periods prescribed under the IBC, before the adjudicating authority - In any case, the IRP/RP/liquidator can immediately secure goods from the respondent authority to be dealt with appropriately, in terms of the IBC. (Para 53) Sundaresh Bhatt, Liquidator of ABG Shipyard v. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 715


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