Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Proceeds pushed for next – Bombay HC adjourns NSEL-FTIL merger hearing

FTIL’s quest for pivots to save numerous stakes has been a determined effort. The Bombay Court, on 27 November, 2014, adjourned the NSEL-FTIL merger issue till 22 December, 2014. The merger draft order came as a stinker from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on 22nd October, 2014, which was swilled by many from the business community and several of the media mouth pieces and vents ever since, calling it unwarranted and uncalled for. The swarming views were - the pragmatic shortcomings from the amalgamation will wear away the fundamentals of limited liability; it may also affect the corporate business moorings adversely, apart from discouraging new and enthusiastic investors and traders. In entirety, it may be detrimental to the economy as a whole.  

Apparently, the adjournment, if construed specifically, means the hearing has been deferred till 22 December, 2014; momentarily, it can be seen as the idea is devoid of enough reasoning, as the basis of Article 396 and ‘public interest’ nomenclature can’t be held to be entirely realising. Thus no parity can be drawn in this case. Also, as per a former argument by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for FTIL, at Supreme Court, section 396 of the Companies Act, 1956, has been exercised, with a thoroughgoing approach, maximum four times, on government companies – that too, with their consent. While in this case, the rummage for expedited merger implementation is on two private companies; needless to say, without their consent, which is unprecedented. Implicitly, the motive seems to be ‘hurried implementation’, which, as per several views and reviews, will emasculate the sanctity of limited liability, affecting the interests of stakeholders, viz. employees and shareholders of FTIL, largely. Therefore, it hasn’t been taken in good taste, for the most part.

It’s been a dour demeanour of FTIL; at first, challenging government’s order for merger of NSEL with FTIL. Then tenaciously striding ahead to protect the sanctity of ‘limited liability.’ Earlier, FTIL had moved Bombay HC against the government’s order. Vehemently put by FTIL, against several arguments – the matter is currently sub-judice before the Bombay HC; thus liability through piercing the corporate veil does not arise.

Myriad voices and arguments against the order were put forward by the business community as well as the media fraternity, to galvanise the matter to reach the authoritative and law dispensing ears. Their objective, seemingly, was to converge fortitudes of the stakeholders, future investors and entrepreneurs at large.

As per the excerpts, mentioned in quotes in the news edit of Economic Times, on 13th Nov., 2014, reads – “The issue of lifting the corporate veil is, thus, already sub-judice before this court. The petitioners crave leave to refer to and rely upon the papers and proceedings, including various interlocutory applications and orders passed by this Hon-'ble Court, in the said suits."

Now, FTIL is all the more determined to protect the interests of the corporate India, along with those of 60,000 shareholders and 1000 employees. On 21st October, 2014, questions have been raised on the Ministry Corporate Affairs’ impugned order of enforced amalgamation of the crisis-hit NSEL with FTIL. FTIL solicited in the petition that the government’s order was “bad in law and needs to be quashed.”

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