NCLAT | Corporate Debtor barred from taking a plea of no privity of contract where it had knowledge that the Operational Creditor operated under the name and style by which S. 9 IBC application is filed

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A Bench of Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Member (Judicial) and Balvinder Singh, Member (Technical), dismissed an appeal filed by the Chairman of the Corporate Debtor challenging the order passed by the National Company Law Tribunal whereby the application filed by the Operational Creditor under Section 9 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 for initiation of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process against the Corporate Debtor was admitted.

The Operation Creditor initiated the insolvency process alleging that the Corporate Debtor failed to pay the dues pending under the contract entered into between parties whereby the Operational Creditor supplied broken rice and coal to the Corporate Debtor.

S.K. Sahijpal, Rakhi Sahijpal, Manisha Saini and Mihika Gupta, Advocates for the appellant-Chairman contended that there was no privity of contract between the Operational Creditor and the Corporate Debtor. It was contended that the Corporate Debtor had entered into the said supply agreement with one Arun Agarwal and Annapurna Agrawal. It was submitted that the Operation Creditor — Priya Trading Company — was not a party to the said agreement. Per contra, Sangram Patnaik representing Priya Trading Company supported the impugned order passed by NCLT.

Perusing the lawyer’s notice brought on evidence which was sent by Corporate Debtor to Arun Agrawal and Annapurna Agrawal, the Appellate Tribunal noted:

“It is therefore abundantly clear that the ‘Corporate Debtor’ was conscious of the fact that Arun Agrawal and Annapurna Agrawal supplying raw material to it were operating under the name and style of ‘Priya Trading Company’. This admission on the part of ‘Corporate Debtor’ stares at its face and there is no scope for taking a U-turn. The fact that ‘Priya Trading Company’ was the name and style under which Arun Agrawal and Annapurna Agrawal have been operating was never a fact required to be discovered or rediscovered. Both are synonyms and well within the knowledge of the ‘Corporate Debtor’ as also the ‘Appellant’. The ground raised to offset the triggering of CorporateInsolvency Resolution Process at the instance of ‘Priya Trading Company’ as ‘Operational Creditor’ by taking plea of there being no privity of contract between the ‘Operational Creditor’ and the ‘Corporate Debtor’ falls flat and has to be dismissed as being absurd and repugnant to the admitted position in regard to the status and locus standi of the ‘Operational Creditor’.”

Hence, the Appellate Tribunal held that the impugned order does not suffer from any infirmity and therefore, the instant appeal was dismissed.[Vijay Kumar v. Priya Trading Co., 2019 SCC OnLine NCLAT 585, decided on 11-09-2019]

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