Leading Corporate and Commercial Law Cases in March 2023

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1. Mita India Pvt. Ltd vs Mahendra Jain

Citation: Mita India Pvt. Ltd vs Mahendra Jain (20.02.2023 – SC of India): MANU/SC/0145/2023; Decided by Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice Pankaj Mithal,

Ratio: The law is settled that though the general power of attorney holder cannot delegate his powers to another person but the same can be delegated when there is a specific clause permitting sub-delegation. Further, the use of the words to appoint “counsels or special attorney” does not only refer to appointment of counsel but of special attorneys other than the counsel as well.

2. Sarabjit Kaur vs State of Punjab & Anr

Citation: Sarabjit Kaur vs State of Punjab & Anr. (01.03.2023 – Supreme Court of India): MANU/SC/0193/2023; Decided by Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Rajesh Bindal

Ratio: The Supreme Court stated that a breach of contract alone does not warrant criminal prosecution for cheating, unless there is clear evidence of fraudulent or dishonest intention from the outset of the transaction. Merely alleging a failure to fulfill a promise is not sufficient to initiate criminal proceedings. The Court emphasized the requirement of demonstrating fraudulent or dishonest intent in order to establish the basis for criminal action.

3. Vistra ITCL (India) Ltd & Ors vs Torrent Investments Pvt. Ltd & Ors

Citation: Vistra ITCL (India) Ltd & Ors vs Torrent Investments Pvt. Ltd & Ors. (02.03.2023 – NCLAT, New Delhi): MANU/NL/0219/2023; Decided by Justice Ashok Bhushan, (Chairperson) and Barun Mitra, Member (Technical)

Ratio: In the above matter, the key question before the Tribunal was whether Regulation 39(1A) prohibits the Committee of Creditors (CoC) from engaging in further negotiations with a Resolution Applicant or requesting an increase in the Resolution Plan value. The NCLAT concluded that Regulation 39(1A) does not restrict the CoC’s authority to negotiate or seek modifications from Resolution Applicants. It emphasized that negotiations could occur after the Plan is received and deliberated upon, as per the Code and CIRP Regulations.

The conclusion of the Challenge Mechanism does not automatically grant the right to put the Resolution Plan with the highest NPV to a vote. The NCLAT allowed the CoC to continue negotiating and undertake a Revised Challenge Mechanism if necessary. The order of the Adjudicating Authority was set aside, and the appeals were rejected.

4. Neha Khanna & Ors vs Tybros Infratech Pvt Ltd

Citation: Neha Khanna & Ors vs Tybros Infratech Pvt Ltd. (03.03.2023 – NCLAT, New Delhi): MANU/NL/0164/2023; Decided by Justice Anant Bijay Singh, Member (Judicial) and Kanthi Narahari, Member (Technical)

Ratio: In the above matter, the appellant purchased two cottages as a homebuyer and paid Rs. 45,00,000 based on the Agreement to Sell. The bone of contention was the appellant’s cancellation of the agreement, which the respondent argues is invalid due to lack of signatures from the corporate debtor.

The Tribunal refrained from deciding the validity of the cancellation agreement, citing the absence of corporate debtor signatures. It emphasized adherence to the law in entertaining such petitions. The appellant was deemed a homebuyer, not a financial creditor, and the Tribunal concluded that the Adjudicating Authority’s order requires no interference.

5. M/s. Sri Rama Constructions vs M/s. Max Infra (I) Limited

Citation: M/s. Sri Rama Constructions vs M/s. Max Infra (I) Ltd. (02.03.2023 – High Court of Telangana): MANU/TL/0429/2023; Decided by Justice P. Naveen Rao and Justice J. Sreenivas Rao

Ratio: In the present case, the Hon’ble High Court of Telangana set aside order of arbitrator on grounds that the arbitrator failed to consider the counterclaim of the Respondent, failing to frame issue for counter-claim despite voluminous documents for the same. The order setting aside the Award was upheld upon appeal to the division bench.

6. Ajay Kumar Radheyshyam Goenka vs Tourism Finance Corporation of India Ltd

Citation: Ajay Kumar Radheyshyam Goneka vs Tourism Finance Corporation of India Ltd. (15.03.2023 – SC of India): MANU/SC/0244/2023; Decided by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice J.B. Pardiwala

Ratio: The liability u/ Section 138 of NI Act for dishonor of cheque is penal in nature and not in compensatory in nature. Therefore, a claimant cannot claim the cheque amount as unsecured debt under the insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. However, the proceedings under IBC and NI Act can run simultaneously unaffected by moratorium u/ Section 31 or Sections 38 to 41 of the IBC, as the NI Act are criminal proceedings which are not affected by such moratorium.

7. Vaishali Arun Patrikar vs Mr. Hemant Khinvasara

Citation: Mrs. Vaishali Arun Patrikar vs Mr. Hemant Khinvasara:  I.A.No.2739 of 2021 In C.P.No.1237 of 2019, NCLT Court III, Mumbai Bench; Decided by Shri H.V. Subba Rao, Hon’ble Member (Judicial) Smt. Madhu Sinha, Hon’ble Member (Technical)

Ratio: The application filed under Sections 43, 44, 66, and 19 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, sought various reliefs against the respondent, a suspended director of the corporate debtor. The issues considered were whether the application could survive without a transaction audit report showing preferential or fraudulent transactions, and whether an order for non-cooperation was maintainable. The Tribunal refrained from adjudicating on certain transactions due to lack of concrete proof, such as a payment made to an advocate and payments from the respondent’s personal account to vendors/employees.

The evaluation of missing assets’ value lacked clarity and evidence, hindering the Tribunal from ruling on fraudulent trading. Regarding non-cooperation, since the liquidation process had concluded and the applicant had distributed assets and balances, it was deemed less significant. As the applicant failed to provide sufficient details or concrete evidence, the application was dismissed and disposed of.

8. Beta Naphthol Ltd. Vs. Ref. has been Recd. from BIFR New Delhi

Citation: M/s Beta Naphthol Ltd. Vs. Ref. has been Recd. from BIFR New Delhi, (14.03.2023 – HC of Madhya Pradesh): COMP No. 26 of 2002; Decided by Shri Justice Subodh Abhyankar

Ratio: Held, in the present case it was held that unpaid tax liabilities of a company under liquidation shall be paid on priority over payments to a secured creditor.

9. Bawana Infra Development Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Delhi State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd

Citation: Bawana Infra Development Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Delhi State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (16.03.2023 – High Court of Delhi): MANU/DE/1815/2023; Decided by Justice Chandra Dhari Singh

Ratio: The Court determined that three factors were crucial in assessing the case: firstly, the Sole Arbitrator needed to adopt a judicial approach; secondly, the principles of natural justice had to be upheld; and thirdly, the decision should not be flagrantly unjust or unreasonable. However, the challenged award did not meet the criteria and failed the triple test. Consequently, the award for these claims was deemed to be blatantly unlawful and contrary to the fundamental policies of India.

10. Abhishek Singh vs Huhtamaki PPL LTD & Anr

Citation: Abhishek Singh vs Huhtamaki PPL LTD & Anr.: SLP (Civil) No.6452 of 2021, SC, Decided by Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath

Ratio: The Supreme Court held that Regulation 30A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) Regulations, which deals with the withdrawal of proceedings before the constitution of the Committee of Creditors (CoC), is valid and binding. The Apex Court clarified that an application for withdrawal can be entertained even before the constitution of the CoC. The Court referred to previous judgments and highlighted that the settlement of claims can be allowed before the formation of the CoC to avoid stifling settlements and promote the resolution process.

The Court also emphasized that the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) should consider such withdrawal applications without standing on technicalities and must exercise its inherent powers under Rule 11 of the NCLT Rules. The Court overturned the NCLT’s order and allowed the withdrawal application filed under Regulation 30A of the IBBI Regulations. The Court further clarified that the withdrawal of the application does not affect the rights of other creditors to raise their independent claims in separate proceedings.

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