Domingo, 27 May, 2018

Gujarat HC Dismisses Essar Steel's Petition Against RBI

A security guard stands next to an Essar Group logo outside the headquarters in Mumbai File A security guard stands next to an Essar Group logo outside the headquarters in Mumbai File
Malita Javier | 17 Julio, 2017, 16:00

The Gujarat High Court on Monday dismissed Essar Steel India Ltd's appeal against a central bank order that asked creditor banks to start insolvency proceedings against the steelmaker, lawyers on the case said. Essar Steel challenged it before the Gujarat High Court, saying that the directive was improper as the firm was already in an advanced stage of loan restructuring. Essar contested a line in the RBI release which said NCLT will accord priority to these cases.

The High court had earlier stayed the insolvency proceedings against Essar Steel before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) as an interim measure on its plea.

Essar Steel's counsel Mihir Thakore had argued that the SBI and other lender banks under the Joint Lenders Forum may not have chose to approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for insolvency proceedings had the RBI not issued such a circular. Standard Chartered Bank had also moved the NCLT against Esaar.

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The company was challenging the RBI's directive, not the SBI's decision. The action, he argued, was a violation of his client's fundamental right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law under Article 14 of Constitution.

RBI counsel Darius Khambata said the steel firm had suppressed facts and misled the court to get a favourable decision. It also said that it has repaid nearly Rs 3,467 crore in last one year, adding that it employs 4,500 people and that if action was taken under the provisions of sections 7, 16 and 17 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the administration of the company would go into hands of interim resolution professionals (IRP) and it would result in the closing down of the company. "The company was aware about SBI's action".

The company had argued that it should not be treated at par with other eleven accounts, as while these accounts are now closed, Essar Steel is still doing well with an annual turnover of Rs 20,000 crore. You can not play games with the court.

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RBI's criteria for selecting the dozen defaulters was that each of them owed at least ₹5,000 crore to banks and 60% of it had turned non-performing by 31 March 2016.

Thus, a total of 12 accounts constituting of 25% of gross NPAs qualified for insolvency.

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