[Sealed Cover] Bom HC | “Anything that I can see, all parties before me are entitled to see as this is the only method to ensure an open and transparent decision-making process”

Bombay High Court: G.S. Patel, J., while addressing a petition observed in the context of sealed cover submissions that,

“…it is not possible for any party to unilaterally decide to put material into a sealed cover. Since I have made it clear that I am not permitting any sealed cover submissions, there is no question of any party arrogating itself any such right or privilege of any such in any circumstance.”

Bench noted that a large number of identical matters have been filed and the list grows daily. Anugrah Stock and Brokers Pvt. Ltd. a ‘Trading Member’ on the National Stock Exchange is the sole respondent in some cases and 1st respondent in four or five cases. It is being represented by Mr Cama.

Wherever Anugrah is the  1st respondent, 2nd respondent is Teji Mandi Analytics Pvt Ltd. a sub-broker.

The said petitions are under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 invoking an arbitration provision mandated by the Rules of the NSE.

Petitioners Claim | Promising very high returns, Anugrah lured investors

Anugrah caused the petitioners extensive financial and monetary loss. Accusations of illegal and unauthorised trades are accompanied have also been placed.

Court notes that the collective losses when computed would somewhere appear to be in the double-digit crores and probably in hundreds of crores.

Curiously the financial securities said to be held by Anugrah are almost worthless. Though bench states that it seems unreasonable to accept that a company that was doing such a high volume of business and acquiring so many expensive assets, would have itself keep so very little in such financial investments.

Sealed Cover

Some additional material by the clients of Mr Cama has been placed in a sealed cover.

In the context of sealed cover, Court stated:

In any case, I am making it abundantly clear that at least in my Court there is no question—and there will never be a question—of anything being done ‘in sealed cover’.

Anything that I can see, all parties before me are entitled to see as this is the only method that I know of to ensure an open and transparent decision-making process.

All the details in the sealed cover are to be placed on affidavit.

To the above, Mr Cama apprehends that the material will find its way into the press to which the bench stated that the said is not its concern.

I decide matters before me on the basis of the papers filed in Court, not newspapers delivered to my doorstep. The press exists for a reason. It has a purpose, one that it serves. I cannot and will not curtail the rights of the free press at the instance of this or that party. I refuse to proceed on the basis that the press is always irresponsible.

Court asked Mr Cama if his clients were willing to deposit their passports to which the counsel stated that his clients will not leave the country without prior permission of the Court and the passports are already with the Economic Offences Wing.

Further, Court Receiver accordingly will proceed to take symbolic possession of all the assets noted in the Affidavit in Reply.

For the properties in Ahemdabad, private receiver will be appointed as the Court Receiver cannot visit that city.

The director of Teji-Mandi (which is now going to be the 2nd Respondent in all matters) and who has affirmed the Affidavit on behalf of Teji-Mandi, is directed not to leave the country without prior permission of this Court obtained after at least four clear working days’ notice to the Advocates for the Petitioner.

Matter to be listed on 05-08-2020.[Raveej Kumar (HUF) v. Anugrah Stock & Brokers Pvt. Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 946, decided on 18-09-2020]

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