Category Archives: Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016

Provision under the (Indian) Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016

Provident Fund/ Pension/ Gratuity is not part of Liquidation Estate


Guest Post: Adv. Nitin Kumar Kaushik (Kaushik Insolvency Professionals)

Numbers of Insolvency Professionals or Liquidators are facing the problem with respect to whether the Provident Fund/Pension Fund/Gratuity Fund is part of liquidation estate or not under Section 36 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 “IBC”. Generally, what happens, the Company had deducted the amount, in the form of provident fund or pension fund or gratuity amount, from the salary of the employee/workmen and then did not deposited or failed to deposit in the account of Employees Provident Fund Organisation “EPFO” or Pension Fund Organisation “PFO”. Thereafter, the government department i.e., EPFO or PFO attached the property of the Corporate Debtor in respect of dues of provident fund or pension fund or gratuity amount on the Corporate Debtor, even the attached property already mortgaged with any of the financial institutions or not.

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Case Note: Standard Chartered Bank Vs S K Gupta, NCLAT


Dhiraj Yadav, 4th Year Law Student, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow; and
Urvashi Gattani, 3rd year Law Student, ILS, Pune

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 has been severely tested since its enactment. However, constructive interpretation by the judiciary coupled with effective amendments to the Code has flooded the gates with teething issues.

In the instant case, Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process was initiated against ‘Essar Steel India Limited (“Corporate Debtor”), and pursuant to which the Committee of Creditors (“CoC”) approved the Resolution Plan submitted by ArcelorMittal India Pvt. Ltd.(‘Successful Resolution Applicant’) which was adjudged by NCLT, Ahmedabad Bench with certain modifications by the impugned order dated 8th March 2019. The successful resolution applicant in its resolution plan made the following categorisation:

Financial Creditors

(i) Secured Financial Creditors (having a charge on project assets of the ‘Corporate Debtor’);

(ii) Secured Financial Creditors (having no charge on project assets of the ‘Corporate Debtor’);

(iii) Unsecured Financial Creditors (with admitted claims less than Rs.10, 00,000);

(iv) Unsecured Financial Creditors (with admitted claims equal to or above Rs. 10, 00,000).

Operational Creditors

(i) Operational Creditors (workmen and employees);

(ii)The Operational Creditors (other than workmen and employees), but admitted claim amount is less than Rs. 1 Crore and

(iii) The Operational Creditors (whose admitted claim is equal to or more than Rs. 1 Crore).

According to the resolution plan, the first two categories of the operational creditors were proposed to be paid 100% of their dues, but the rest of the Operational Creditors whose claim admitted is Rs. 1 Crore or more, have been proposed with NIL amount i.e. 0% (zero per cent).

However, pursuant to this bifurcation numbers of appeals were preferred by the Operational Creditors and the Financial Creditors, on similar ground. These appeals were clubbed together to answer the question of law involved. The grievances of the Operational Creditors have been that in the resolution plan 0% of their debt has been proposed to be paid and claims of some of the Operational Creditors have been notionally assessed at Re. 1/- (average) by the ‘Resolution Professional’ without any basis.

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) being one of the Financial Creditors, alleged that they were not equated with other Financial Creditors. All the Financial Creditors have been allowed 91.99% of their claim amount, whereas the claim of SCB has been categorised as-

  • ‘Secured Financial Creditors’ (having a charge on project assets of the Corporate Debtor) ─ in respect of claim amount of Rs. 3,487.10 Crores and SCB has been shown as Secured Financial Creditors but it has not been allowed 91.99% of the claim amount as allowed in favour of other Financial Creditors. SCB has been provided with 1.74% of the claim amount on the ground that it has no charge on project assets of the Corporate Debtor.
  • Unsecured Financial Creditors in respect of claim amount of Rs. 70.34 Crore has been allowed 4.08% of the claim amount.

The following Questions of Law  arising from this appeal and the earlier preferred appeals have been answered by the Hon’ble NCLAT in this pertinent case:

  1. Whether the distribution as shown in the ‘Resolution Plan is discriminatory and can the Financial Creditors be classified on the ground of a Secured Financial Creditor having charge on project assets of the Corporate Debtor and Secured Financial Creditor having no charge on the project asset of the Corporate Debtor or on the ground that the Financial Creditor is an Unsecured Financial Creditor?

Financial Creditors being Claimants at par with other Claimants like other Financial Creditors and the Operational Creditors having conflict of interest cannot distribute the amount amongst themselves that too keeping the maximum amount in favour of one or other Financial Creditors and minimum or ‘NIL’ amount in favour of some other Financial Creditors or the Operational Creditors. This violates Section 30 (2) and Regulation 38 (1A).

There is also discrimination made by CoC in the distribution of the proposed amount to Operational Creditors qua the Financial Creditors. The distribution is discriminatory and arbitrary. Classification of Financial Creditors is also discriminatory.

Therefore, Appellate Tribunal observed that as per the definition of the creditor in the Code, it includes a ‘Financial Creditor’, an ‘Operational Creditor’, a ‘Secured Creditor’, an ‘Unsecured Creditor’ and a decree-holder. Also as per the definition of Financial Creditor and Financial Debt (Section 5 (7)& (8), there is no distinction made between one or other ‘Financial Creditor’. All of such person form one class i.e. ‘Financial Creditor’ they cannot be sub-classified as ‘Secured’ or ‘Unsecured Financial Creditor’ for the purpose of preparation of the ‘Resolution Plan’.

  1. Whether the Operational Creditors can be validly classified on the ground of:
  2. employees of the Corporate Debtor
  3. those who have ‘supplied goods’ and ‘rendered services’ to the ‘Corporate Debtor’ and
  4. the debt payable under the existing law (statutory dues) to the Central Government or the State Government or the Local Authorities?

The Hon’ble  Appellate Tribunal held that the Operational Creditors can be classified for determining the manner in which the amount is to be distributed to them, they are to be given the same treatment if similarly situated.

Thus the classification of Operational Creditors in the Resolution Plan is upheld and not discriminatory as the Operational Creditors whose claim is more than Rs. 1 Crore or the ‘Central Government’ or the ‘State Government’ or the ‘Local Authority’, who raise their claim on the basis of the statutory dues, cannot ask for same treatment as allowed in favour of the Operational Creditors like employees or those who have ‘supplied goods’ and ‘rendered services’ having claim less than Rs.1 Crore, are provided with 100% dues of their claim amount.

  1. Whether the ‘Committee of Creditors’ can delegate its power to a ‘Sub Committee’ or ‘Core Committee’ for negotiation with the ‘Resolution Applicant’ for revision of plan and is it empowered to distribute the amount amongst the ‘Financial Creditors’ and the ‘Operational Creditors’ and other Creditors?

A ‘Sub-Committee or ‘Core Committee’ is unknown and against the provisions of the IBC. There is no provision under IBC which permits constitution of a ‘Core Committee’ or ‘Sub-Committee’ nor the IBC or Regulations empowers the ‘Committee of Creditors’ to delegate the duties of the ‘Committee of Creditors’ to such ‘Core Committee’/ ‘Sub-Committee’.

Therefore, the Committee of Creditors’ cannot delegate its power to a ‘Sub Committee’ or ‘Core Committee’ for negotiating with the ‘Resolution Applicant(s)’. The manner of distribution of amount among various stakeholders is the exclusive domain of the Resolution Applicant.

The said provision makes it clear that the ‘Resolution Applicant’ in its ‘Resolution Plan’ must provide the amount it proposes to pay one or other Creditors, including the ‘Operational Creditors’ and the ‘Financial Creditors’ that means if the ‘Resolution Plan’ does not show the distribution amongst the ‘Financial Creditors’ and the ‘Operational Creditors’, it cannot be placed before the ‘Committee of Creditors’.

Conclusion

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,2016 is experiencing a seesaw of judgments where time and again rights of Financial and Operational Creditors rights have been determined. As per this judgment following the precedents set up in the case of Binani Judgments and in Swiss Ribbons Financial and Operational Creditors have been treated at par. Amount earned during the process by the company, where the Resolution Applicant is not paying full, the profits have been given to the creditors – financial and operational. It has also serious relevance where the resolution plan has been approved and accepted by the lender whether the said lender has any rights left against the principal borrower under the guarantee or otherwise This judgment will have a far-reaching impact in the future when the law of precedent will be referred to.

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PROCEDURE UNDER THE SARFAESI ACT, 2002


Shreesh Chadha
4th Year BALLB Student,
Jindal Global Law School
Sonipat

In the Statement of Object and Reasons of the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act,2002(hereinafter SARFAESI,2002 or Act,2002), it is stated that the recovery of loans was a slow process which consequently resulted in the “mounting levels of Non-Performing Assets”. This act provides for the realization of any security interest in the favour of any secured creditor “without the intervention of the court or tribunal”[1]. This has resulted in a speedy recovery of Non- Performing Assets.

Under this act secured creditors (banks or financial institutions) have many rights for enforcement of security interest under S. 13 of SARFAESI Act, 2002. If the borrower of financial assistance makes any default in repayment of the loan or any instalment and his account is classified as Non-Performing Asset by a secured creditor, then secured creditor may require before the expiry of the period of limitation[2]by written notice. The Impugned Act, does not cover a certain class of assets, for example, any asset other than a non-performing asset, or unsecured loans, loans below ₹100,000 or where remaining debt is below 20% of the original principals stated in S. 31 of the SARFAESI Act,2002.

WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR SALE/AUCTION THAT THE SECURED CREDITOR NEEDS TO FOLLOW?

The procedures laid down in the SARFAESI Act,2002, as well as the Security Enforcement (Rules), 2002, are mandatory, and no divulgence from the same is permitted, as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.[3] The procedures to be followed under the Act,2002 are stated hereinbelow.

Procedure of Physical Possession of the secured asset:

  • If the borrower defaults in repayment, under S. 13(2) a demand notice is to be sent by Secured Creditor to the borrower to discharge his liabilities. Such notice persists for 60 days. The demand notice shall contain details and amounts of the amount payable by the borrower.[4] This demand notice can also be objected to by the borrower, which should be replied by the secured creditor within 15 days, and the reply should enumerate the reasons for non-acceptance of such objection. This position was clarified by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India[5]and later amended into the SARFAESI Act, as S. 13 (3A).
  • When the 60 day period concludes, without any discharge by the Borrower, actions can be taken by the Secured Creditor as enumerated under S. 13 (4)- wherein they can take possession of the secured assets, take over the management of the asset, appoint any person to manage the secured asset, require any person who has acquired any of the assets from the borrower to pay the secured creditor.
  • The actions under S. 13 (4) are appealable as enumerated in S. 17- 18. Therefore, the borrower can appeal the actions of the secured creditor in Debt Recovery Tribunal, DRAT, writ in High Court and SLP in Supreme Court.

Procedure of Sale and Auction under the SARFAESI Act,2002:

  • A Sale Notice is required in the case of auctioning off of the secured asset if inviting tenders from the public, or by way of public auction. This sale notice shall be published in 2 leading newspapers, on the website of the secured creditor, and as per the Directions of the Ministry of Finance directions, upload the tender notice on tender.gov.in.
  • The sale notice or possession notice should be effectively served, I.e. in 2 newspapers in circulation in the area as provided for in the SECURITY INTEREST (ENFORCEMENT) RULES,2002.
  • More particularly, the procedure for an auction of immovable assets is given in Rule 8, Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules,2002. the methods of sale of the immovable secured assets include:

(a) by obtaining quotations from the persons dealing with similar secured assets or otherwise interested in buying such assets; or

(b) by inviting tenders from the public;

(c) by holding public auction; or

(d) by private treaty.[6] (after the possession of the asset by a Bank or Financial Institution, they might be willing to sell it to an appropriate buyer through a private deal with a third party)

Procedure regarding payment by purchaser:

The first step is determining the Reserve Price which is the minimum fair market value of the immovable asset as stipulated by the authorized officer, followed by the relevant notice according to the obligations enumerated in Rule 8 (6). The bidding process for public auction shall be done in accordance with Rule 9, Security Interest Rules, 2002 wherein the bidder shall deposit:

(1) Earnest money deposit (at the time of bidding)

(2) 25 per cent of the accepted sales price (including EMD) after successful bidding

(3) 75 per cent of the balance amount within 15 days of the auction.

Upon completion of the above, the sale certificate shall be issued to him. Otherwise, any sale by any other method other than public auction shall be on terms and conditions as decided by the parties.[7]It is also mandated under the Security Interest Rules,2002 that the amount of sale shall not be less than the reserved price.

 àWHAT ARE THE OTHER REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO SECURED CREDITORS?

Section 14 of the Act, 2002 provides a provision for the assistance of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate andDistrict Magistrate in taking possession of the property. According to the Hon’ble High Court of Madras has held that this provision should be given a purposive interpretation in consonance with the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the SARFAESI Act,2002. It was held that the purpose of this provision is to aid the secured creditor of obtaining possession of the asset as soon as possible, and convert a Non-Performing Asset into a source of recovery for the amount due, and transfer the secured asset to a willing third party.[8]

However, it is pertinent to mention that all the rights and interests of symbolic and/or physical possession guaranteed to the secured creditor under the Act,2002 extinguish after the sale to the third party is complete. From the date of the registration of the sale deed, the secured creditor does not have any remedy or course of action under S. 13 or S. 14 of the SARFAESI Act,2002.

In instances where the secured creditor is unable to claim possession over the secured asset after the expiry of the period of the demand notice under S. 13(2) of the Act,2002 specifically due to tenancy rights that might exist over the said asset, the rent or any other amount which might become due on the said secured asset from the lessee to the borrower (if any) becomes due to the secured creditor. This position was enumerated in S. 13 (4) of the Act,2002, and was solidified by the Hon’ble Supreme Court [9].

Therefore, within the 4 walls of the Act,2002 the secured creditor is well protected if the correct procedure is followed. The SARFAESI Act,2002 is one such legislation that genuinely removes unnecessary and frivolous litigation from the courts, and provides safeguard against the initiation of such litigation at the option of both, the defaulting borrower as well as the secured creditor.

(Views express in this post are of the author, this blog do not take any responsibility.)

E-mail of auther- shreeshchadha @ gmail.com

[1] S. 13 (1), SARFAESI Act, 2002.

[2] S. 36,SARFAESI Act,2002.

[3]ITC Limited v. Blue Coast Hotels Ltd. &OrsCIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2928-2930 OF 2018.

[4] S 13 (3), SARFAESI Act,2002.

[5]Mardia Chemicals Ltd. v. Union of IndiaTransfer Case (civil)  92-95 of 2002.

[6] Rule 8 (6), Security Interest Rules,2002.

[7] Rule 8(8), Security Interest Rules,2002.

[8]Kathikkal Tea Plantations v. State Bank of IndiaMANU/TN/1926/2009.

[9]Harshad Govardhan Sondgar v. International Asset Reconstruction((2014) 6 SCC 1).

Ease of Doing Business Report 2019 – Corporate Law Perspective


Once upon a time falling in the line of World Bank was not fine for at least half of the world. The scenario is changing. There is a rumour that economies not only reforms but also window dress it.

India placed this year at the 77th place with 67.23 EODB scores. Unlike a layman, this EODB score concerns the exports. When we talk about this ranking is a rating of Delhi and Mumbai, not any other place. It might possible other states/cities doing better and not reflected in the report.

“India also focused on streamlining business processes. Under its National Trade Facilitation Action Plan 2017-2020, India implemented several initiatives that improved the efficiency of cross-border trade, reducing border and documentary compliance time for both exports and imports (figure 1.9). Enhanced risk-based management now allows exporters to seal their containers electronically at their own facilities; as little as 5% of shipments must undergo physical inspections. India also invested in port equipment, strengthened management and improved electronic document flow. By implementing the Single Window Clearance System in Delhi and the Online Building Permit Approval System in Mumbai during the second half of 2017, India also continued to streamline and centralize its construction permitting process. Regarding getting electricity, newly-adopted regulations from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission require that electrical connections be completed within 15 days of the application’s acceptance. To comply with this regulation, Tata Power Delhi Distribution deployed more personnel as well as tracking tools and key performance indicators to monitor each commercial connection.” {Page 12}

A print version of the report may be downloaded from here.

SPICe added to the report

The report mentioned that India is among nation who improved by making it easier to start a business. India made starting a business easier by fully integrating multiple application forms into a general incorporation form.

Starting a Business

The starting a business ranking is fairly poor despite mentioning of SPICe in the report. The starting a Business rank among 190 economies is 137. On the scale of 100, the score for incorporation is 80.96. Starting a business in India involves 10 procedures involving 16.5 days. It cost 14.4% of per capita income of Indians. It means it is still not easy to start a formal business for an average Indian. This fact cause concern as there is no legal requirement of minimum capital for a business.

Minority Protection

This is good news. Our ranking is fairly good at 7th place with a score of 80. It can be understood that most economies are not doing fair on minority protection. So, it may not be our best efforts but the poor performance of most economies.

The extent of disclosure index (0–10) 8

The extent of director liability index (0–10) 7

Ease of shareholder suits index (0–10) 7

The extent of shareholder rights index (0–10) 10

The extent of ownership and control index (0–10) 8

The extent of corporate transparency index (0–10) 8

Resolving Insolvency

Insolvency is a very interesting phenomenon presently in India. Our improved rank is 108, a number which Indians love. Insolvency Resolution Score is 81.85. An average time for insolvency resolution is one year presently. This is quite embracing as against the promised 180 days. However, we are facing many practical issues and teething troubles.

Cost of Insolvency resolution is 3.5% of the estate evolved. Recovery rate is 85.3 cent in the Dollar.

In India the establishment of debt recovery tribunals reduced nonperforming loans by 28% and lowered interest rates on larger loans, suggesting that faster processing of debt recovery cases cut the cost of credit.

A recent study using Doing Business data showed that insolvency resolution is one of the main drivers behind “missing” corporate bond markets in many economies. More borrowers gain access to credit in economies with a robust legal system that supports the use of movable assets as collateral and a well-developed credit information sharing system.

Other major reform related to business

India (Delhi) issued a regulation prescribing new electricity charges.

India introduced the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act 2017 and the Delhi Goods and Services Tax Act 2017, which unified all sales taxes into one new tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Performance on corporate law front

Overall performance on corporate law front is not satisfactory. We can notice that last year insolvency related score and rating were improved due to the introduction of the law. Practical implementation of the same was not so satisfactory. Same is also true for incorporation of a company or starting a business.

Targeted reforms

This is unfortunate that government across economies trying to improve their ease of doing business ranking and not taking a holistic approach on reforms. Various segments which might need attention but not directly related to the ranking are not taken care of.

Anyway it is good to see reforms.

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Managing a Going Concern


[A version of this article was published in July – August 2017 issue of Newsletter of The ICSI – WIRC Pune Chapter.]

These days, media hype talk about a new magical law to reduce nonperforming assets from the books of lender banks and financial institutions. There is no such new law. There is a law for insolvency resolution. This law also deals with the possibility of liquidation which may trigger after the failure of resolution of insolvency.

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Amendment in Corporate Insolvency Regulations


Recent case of Jaypee Infratech, question arises where should home-buyers be classified? Are home-buyers financial creditors or operational creditors? In case, home-buyers they classify themselves as operational creditors, will they forego their claim on interest or assured return on their advances? In case, home-buyers they classify themselves as financial creditors, will they forego their claim over homes? This was a game of dice, will company be able to resolve insolvency or face liquidation?

These amendments try to solve these issues.

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Managing Corporate Debtor under Resolution


My well criticized last post “Insolvency Professional ‘Non’ Entities” mentioned, “The Term “Insolvency Professional Entity” has no mention in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. This is sole creation of anxieties of newly enrolled registered Insolvency Professionals reflected in Regulation 12 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Professionals) Regulations, 2016.” Most insolvency professionals, except few like me, are anxious about managing corporate debtor as a going concern. Every worry has its solution.

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