Now, we will discuss general provisions related to winding up applicable to every mode of winding up.
DEBTS OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS TO BE ADMITTED TO PROOF (SECTION 324):
In every winding up (subject, in the case of insolvent companies, to the application in accordance with the provisions of this Act or of the law of insolvency), all debts payable on a contingency, and all claims against the company, present or future, certain or contingent, ascertained or sounding only in damages, shall be admissible to proof against the company, a just estimate being made, so far as possible, of the value of such debts or claims as may be subject to any contingency, or may sound only in damages, or for some other reason may not bear a certain value.
APPLICATION OF INSOLVENCY RULES (SECTION 325):
In the winding up of an insolvent company, the same rules shall prevail and be observed with regard to—
(a) debts provable;
(b) the valuation of annuities and future and contingent liabilities; and
(c) the respective rights of secured and unsecured creditors,
as are in force for the time being under the law of insolvency with respect to the estates of persons adjudged insolvent
The security of every secured creditor shall be deemed to be subject to a pari passu charge in favour of the workmen to the extent of the workmen’s portion therein. Where a secured creditor, instead of relinquishing his security and proving his debts, opts to realise his security,—
(i) the liquidator shall be entitled to represent the workmen and enforce such charge;
(ii) any amount realised by the liquidator by way of enforcement of such charge shall be applied rateably for the discharge of workmen’s dues; and
(iii) so much of the debts due to such secured creditor as could not be realised by him or the amount of the workmen’s portion in his security, whichever is less, shall rank pari passu with the workmen’s dues for the purposes of section 326.
All these persons shall be entitled to prove and receive dividends out of the assets of the company under winding up, and make such claims against the company as they respectively are entitled to make by virtue of this section. If a secured creditor, instead of relinquishing his security and proving his debts, proceeds to realise his security, he shall be liable to pay his portion of the expenses incurred by the liquidator, including a provisional liquidator, if any, for the preservation of the security before its realisation by the secured creditor.
“WORKMEN’’ means the employees of the company, being workmen within the meaning of clause (s) of section 2 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
“WORKMEN’S DUES’’, means the aggregate of the following sums due from the company to its workmen, namely:—
(i) all wages or salary including wages payable for time or piece work and salary earned wholly or in part by way of commission of any workman in respect of services rendered to the company and any compensation payable to any workman under any of the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947;
(ii) all accrued holiday remuneration becoming payable to any workman or, in the case of his death, to any other person in his right on the termination of his employment before or by the effect of the winding up order or resolution;
(iii) unless the company is being wound up voluntarily merely for the purposes of reconstruction or amalgamation with another company or unless the company has, at the commencement of the winding up, under such a contract with insurers as is mentioned in section 14 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, rights capable of being transferred to and vested in the workmen, all amount due in respect of any compensation or liability for compensation under the said Act in respect of the death or disablement of any workman of the company;
(iv) all sums due to any workman from the provident fund, the pension fund, the gratuity fund or any other fund for the welfare of the workmen, maintained by the company.
Overriding preferential payments (Section 326):
In the winding up of a company,—
(a) workmen’s dues; and
(b) debts due to secured creditors to the extent such debts rank under clause (iii) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 325 pari passu with such dues, shall be paid in priority to all other debts.
The sums towards wages or salary referred to in sub-clause (i) of clause (b) of sub-section (3) of section 325, which are payable for a period of two years preceding the winding up order shall be paid in priority to all other debts (including debts due to secured creditors), within a period of thirty days of sale of assets and shall be subject to such charge over the security of secured creditors. These debts payable shall be paid in full before any payment is made to secured creditors and thereafter other debts payable shall be paid in full, unless the assets are insufficient to meet them, in which case they shall abate in equal proportions.
PREFERENTIAL PAYMENTS (SECTION 327):
Section 326 deals with top preference of payment.
In a winding up, subject to the provisions of section 326, there shall be paid in priority to all other debts,—
(a) all revenues, taxes, cesses and rates due from the company to the Central Government or a State Government or to a local authority at the relevant date, and having become due and payable within the twelve months immediately before that date;
(b) all wages or salary including wages payable for time or piece work and salary earned wholly or in part by way of commission of any employee in respect of services rendered to the company and due for a period not exceeding four months within the twelve months immediately before the relevant date. The amount payable under this clause to any workman shall not exceed such amount as may be notified; (employee and workman is different here)
(c) all accrued holiday remuneration becoming payable to any employee, or in the case of his death, to any other person claiming under him, on the termination of his employment before, or by the winding up order, or, as the case may be, the dissolution of the company;
(d) unless the company is being wound up voluntarily merely for the purposes of reconstruction or amalgamation with another company, all amount due in respect of contributions payable during the period of twelve months immediately before the relevant date by the company as the employer of persons under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 or any other law for the time being in force;
(e) unless the company has, at the commencement of winding up, under such a contract with any insurer as is mentioned in section 14 of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, rights capable of being transferred to and vested in the workmen, all amount due in respect of any compensation or liability for compensation under the said Act in respect of the death or disablement of any employee of the company. Where any compensation under the said Act is a weekly payment, the amount payable under this clause shall be taken to be the amount of the lump sum for which such weekly payment could, if redeemable, be redeemed, if the employer has made an application under that Act;
(f) all sums due to any employee from the provident fund, the pension fund, the gratuity fund or any other fund for the welfare of the employees, maintained by the company; and
(g) the expenses of any investigation held in pursuance of sections 213 and 216, in so far as they are payable by the company.
Where any payment has been made to any employee of a company on account of wages or salary or accrued holiday remuneration, himself or, in the case of his death, to any other person claiming through him, out of money advanced by some person for that purpose, the person by whom the money was advanced shall, in a winding up, have a right of priority in respect of the money so advanced and paid-up to the amount by which the sum in respect of which the employee or other person in his right would have been entitled to priority in the winding up has been reduced by reason of the payment having been made.
The debts enumerated in this section shall—
(a) rank equally among themselves and be paid in full, unless the assets are insufficient to meet them, in which case they shall abate in equal proportions; and
(b) so far as the assets of the company available for payment to general creditors are insufficient to meet them, have priority over the claims of holders of debentures under any floating charge created by the company, and be paid accordingly out of any property comprised in or subject to that charge.
(4) Subject to the retention of such sums as may be necessary for the costs and expenses of the winding up, the debts under this section shall be discharged forthwith so far as the assets are sufficient to meet them,
(5) In the event of a landlord or other person distraining or having distrained on any goods or effects of the company within three months immediately before the date of a winding up order, the debts to which priority is given under this section shall be a first charge on the goods or effects so distrained on or the proceeds of the sale thereof. In respect of any money paid under any such charge, the landlord or other person shall have the same rights of priority as the person to whom the payment is made.
(6) Any remuneration in respect of a period of holiday or of absence from work on medical grounds through sickness or other good cause shall be deemed to be wages in respect of services rendered to the company during that period.
The expression “accrued holiday remuneration” includes, in relation to any person, all sums which, by virtue either of his contract of employment or of any enactment including any order made or direction given thereunder, are payable on account of the remuneration which would, in the ordinary course, have become payable to him in respect of a period of holiday, had his employment with the company continued until he became entitled to be allowed the holiday.
The expression “employee” does not include a workman; and
The expression “relevant date” means—
(a) in the case of a company being wound up by the Tribunal, the date of appointment or first appointment of a provisional liquidator, or if no such appointment was made, the date of the winding up order, unless, in either case, the company had commenced to be wound up voluntarily before that date; and
(b) in any other case, the date of the passing of the resolution for the voluntary winding up of the company.
Fraudulent Preference (Section 328):
This Section intends to curb any practice to give a fraudulent preference to a particular creditor over others.
Where a company has given preference to a person who is one of the creditors of the company or a surety or guarantor for any of the debts or other liabilities of the company, and the company does anything or suffers anything done which has the effect of putting that person into a position which, in the event of the company going into liquidation, will be better than the position he would have been in if that thing had not been done prior to six months of making winding up application, the Tribunal, if satisfied that, such transaction is a fraudulent preference may order as it may think fit for restoring the position to what it would have been if the company had not given that preference.
If the Tribunal is satisfied that there is a preference transfer of property, movable or immovable, or any delivery of goods, payment, execution made, taken or done by or against a company within six months before making winding up application, the Tribunal may order as it may think fit and may declare such transaction invalid and restore the position.
TRANSFERS NOT IN GOOD FAITH (SECTION 329)
Any transfer of property, movable or immovable, or any delivery of goods, made by a company, not being a transfer or delivery made in the ordinary course of its business or in favour of a purchaser or encumbrance in good faith and for valuable consideration, if made within a period of one year before the presentation of a petition for winding up by the Tribunal or the passing of a resolution for voluntary winding up of the company, shall be void against the Company Liquidator.
CERTAIN OTHER TRANSFERS (SECTION 330)
Any transfer or assignment by a company of all its properties or assets to trustees for the benefit of all its creditors shall be void.
LIABILITIES AND RIGHTS OF PERSON FRAUDULENTLY PREFERRED (SECTION 331)
Where a company is being wound up and anything made, taken or done after the commencement of this Act is invalid under section 328 as a fraudulent preference of a person interested in property mortgaged or charged to secure the company’s debt, then, without prejudice to any rights or liabilities arising, apart from this provision, the person preferred shall be subject to the same liabilities, and shall have the same rights, as if he had undertaken to be personally liable as a surety for the debt, to the extent of the mortgage or charge on the property or the value of his interest, whichever is less.
The value of the interest of the person preferred shall be determined as at the date of the transaction constituting the fraudulent preference, as if the interest were free of all encumbrances other than those to which the mortgage or charge for the debt of the company was then subject.
On an application made to the Tribunal with respect to any payment on the ground that the payment was a fraudulent preference of a surety or guarantor, the Tribunal shall have jurisdiction to determine any questions with respect to the payment arising between the person to whom the payment was made and the surety or guarantor and to grant relief in respect thereof, notwithstanding that it is not necessary so to do for the purposes of the winding up. For that purpose, the Tribunal may give leave to bring in the surety or guarantor as a third party as in the case of a suit for the recovery of the sum paid.
These provisions shall apply mutatis mutandis in relation to transactions other than payment of money.
EFFECT OF FLOATING CHARGE (SECTION 332)
Where a company is being wound up, a floating charge on the undertaking or property of the company created within the twelve months immediately preceding the commencement of the winding up, shall, unless it is proved that the company immediately after the creation of the charge was solvent, be invalid, except for the amount of any cash paid to the company at the time of, or subsequent to the creation of, and in consideration for, the charge, together with interest on that amount at the rate of five per cent per annum or such other rate as may be notified by the Central Government in this behalf.
DISCLAIMER OF ONEROUS PROPERTY (SECTION 333)
Where any part of the property of a company which is being wound up consists of—
(a) land of any tenure, burdened with onerous covenants;
(b) shares or stocks in companies;
(c) any other property which is not saleable or is not readily saleable by reason of the possessor thereof being bound either to the performance of any onerous act or to the payment of any sum of money; or
(d) unprofitable contracts, the Company Liquidator may, notwithstanding that he has endeavoured to sell or has taken possession of the property or exercised any act of ownership in relation thereto or done anything in pursuance of the contract, with the leave of the Tribunal and subject to the provisions of this section, by writing signed by him, at any time within twelve months after the commencement of the winding up or such extended period as may be allowed by the Tribunal, disclaim the property.
Where the Company Liquidator had not become aware of the existence of any such property within one month from the commencement of the winding up, the power of disclaiming the property may be exercised at any time within twelve months after he has become aware thereof or such extended period as may be allowed by the Tribunal.
The disclaimer shall operate to determine, as from the date of disclaimer, the rights, interest and liabilities of the company in or in respect of the property disclaimed, but shall not, except so far as is necessary for the purpose of releasing the company and the property of the company from liability, affect the rights, interest or liabilities of any other person.
The Tribunal, before or on granting leave to disclaim, may require such notices to be given to persons interested, and impose such terms as a condition of granting leave, and make such other order in the matter as the Tribunal considers just and proper.
The Company Liquidator shall not be entitled to disclaim any property in any case where an application in writing has been made to him by any person interested in the property requiring him to decide whether he will or will not disclaim and the Company Liquidator has not, within a period of twenty-eight days after the receipt of the application or such extended period as may be allowed by the Tribunal, give notice to the applicant that he intends to apply to the Tribunal for leave to disclaim, and in case the property is under a contract, if the Company Liquidator after such an application as aforesaid does not within the said period or extended period disclaim the contract, he shall be deemed to have adopted it.
The Tribunal may, on the application of any person who is, as against the Company Liquidator, entitled to the benefit or subject to the burden of a contract made with the company, make an order rescinding the contract on such terms as to payment by or to either party of damages for the non-performance of the contract, or otherwise as the Tribunal considers just and proper, and any damages payable under the order to any such person may be proved by him as a debt in the winding up.
The Tribunal may, on an application by any person who either claims any interest in any disclaimed property or is under any liability not discharged under this Act in respect of any disclaimed property, and after hearing any such persons as it thinks fit, make an order for the vesting of the property in, or the delivery of the property to, any person entitled thereto or to whom it may seem just that the property should be delivered by way of compensation for such liability as aforesaid, or a trustee for him, and on such terms as the Tribunal considers just and proper, and on any such vesting order being made, the property comprised therein shall vest accordingly in the person named therein in that behalf without any conveyance or assignment for the purpose: Provided that where the property disclaimed is of a leasehold nature, the Tribunal shall not make a vesting order in favour of any person claiming under the company, whether as under-lessee or as mortgagee or holder of a charge by way of demise, except upon the terms of making that person—
(a) subject to the same liabilities and obligations as those to which the company was subject under the lease in respect of the property at the commencement of the winding up; or
(b) if the Tribunal thinks fit, subject only to the same liabilities and obligations as if the lease had been assigned to that person at that date, and in either event as if the lease had comprised only the property comprised in the vesting order, and any mortgagee or under-lessee declining to accept a vesting order upon such terms shall be excluded from all interest in, and security upon the property, and, if there is no person claiming under the company who is willing to accept an order upon such terms, the Tribunal shall have power to vest the estate and interest of the company in the property in any person liable, either personally or in a representative character, and either alone or jointly with the company, to perform the covenants of the lessee in the lease, free and discharged from all estates, encumbrances and interests created therein by the company.
Any person affected by the operation of a disclaimer under this section shall be deemed to be a creditor of the company to the amount of the compensation or damages payable in respect of such effect, and may accordingly prove the amount as a debt in the winding up.
TRANSFERS AFTER COMMENCEMENT OF WINDING UP (SECTION 334):
In the case of a voluntary winding up, any transfer of shares in the company, not being a transfer made to or with the sanction of the Company Liquidator, and any alteration in the status of the members of the company, made after the commencement of the winding up, shall be void.
In the case of a winding up by the Tribunal, any disposition of the property, including actionable claims, of the company, and any transfer of shares in the company or alteration in the status of its members, made after the commencement of the winding up, shall, unless the Tribunal otherwise orders, be void.
Certain Attachments, Execution etc in winding up (Section 335)
Where any company is being wound up by the Tribunal,—
(a) any attachment, distress or execution put in force, without leave of the Tribunal against the estate or effects of the company, after the commencement of the winding up; or
(b) any sale held, without leave of the Tribunal of any of the properties or effects of the company, after such commencement,
shall be void.
This section shall not apply to any proceedings for the recovery of any tax or impost or any dues payable to the Government.
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