Supreme Court: In an important ruling relating to the corporate insolvency resolution process concerning the corporate debtor, Jaypee Infratech Limited, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari* and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has granted further 45 days for submission of the modified/fresh resolution plans by the resolution applicants, for their consideration by CoC and for submission of report by IRP to the Adjudicating Authority. The Court held that while the Adjudicating authority has the authority to disapprove the resolution plan approved by the Committee of Creditors (CoC), it cannot modify the same.
“If, within its limited jurisdiction, the Adjudicating Authority finds any shortcoming in the resolution plan vis-à-vis the specified parameters, it would only send the resolution plan back to the Committee of Creditors, for re-submission after satisfying the parameters delineated by the Code and exposited by this Court.”
The ruling came in the dispute relating to the resolution plan in the corporate insolvency resolution process concerning the corporate debtor, Jaypee Infratech Limited (JIL), impacting a large number of persons/entities, including the buyers of flats/apartments in its real estate development projects.
Even though the resolution plan submitted by the resolution applicant, NBCC (India) Limited was approved by the CoC by a substantial majority of 97.36% of voting share of the financial creditors, NCLT, by its order dated 03.03.2020, approved the resolution plan with some modifications and certain directions while accepting some of the objections like those of the dissenting financial creditor bank and the land providing agency but while rejecting some other, including those of the holding company of JIL and while leaving a few propositions open for adjudication in the appropriate forum.
Here are the key findings by the Court in the matter:
A. Adjudicating Authority has limited jurisdiction in the matter of approval of a resolution plan, which is well-defined and circumscribed by Sections 30(2) and 31 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. There is no scope for interference with the commercial aspects of the decision of the CoC; and there is no scope for substituting any commercial term of the resolution plan approved by Committee of Creditors.
B. The process of simultaneous voting over two plans for electing one of them cannot be faulted in the present case; and approval of the resolution plan of NBCC is not vitiated because of simultaneous consideration and voting over two resolution plans by the Committee of Creditors.
C. The stipulations in the resolution plan, as regards dealings with YEIDA and with the terms of Concession Agreement, have rightly not been approved by the Adjudicating Authority but, for the stipulations which have not been approved, the only correct course for the Adjudicating Authority was to send the plan back to the Committee of Creditors for reconsideration.
D. The Adjudicating Authority has not erred in disapproving the proposed treatment of dissenting financial creditor like ICICI Bank Limited in the resolution plan; but has erred in modifying the related terms of the resolution plan and in not sending the matter back to the Committee of Creditors for reconsideration.
E. The Adjudicating Authority has erred in issuing directions to the resolution applicant to make provision to clear the dues of unclaimed fixed deposit holders.
F. The issues related with the objections of YES Bank Limited and pertaining to JHL, the subsidiary of the corporate debtor JIL, are left for resolution by the parties concerned, who will work out a viable solution.
G. In the overall scheme of the resolution plan, the stipulation in Clause 21 of Schedule 3 thereof cannot be said to be unfair; and the observations in paragraphs 132 and 133 of the order dated 03.03.2020 justly take care of the right of any aggrieved party (agreement holder) to seek remedy in accordance with law and ensures viability of the resolution plan.
H. It cannot be said that the resolution plan does not adequately deal with the interests of minority shareholders. The grievances as suggested by the minority shareholders cannot be recognised as legal grievances.
I. The homebuyers as a class having assented to the resolution plan of NBCC, any individual homebuyer or any association of homebuyers cannot maintain a challenge to the resolution plan and cannot be treated as a dissenting financial creditor or an aggrieved person; the question of violation of the provisions of the RERA does not arise; the resolution plan in question is not violative of the mandatory requirements of the CIRP Regulations; and when the resolution plan comprehensively deals with all the assets and liabilities of the corporate debtor, no housing project of the corporate debtor could be segregated merely for the reason that same has been completed or is nearing completion.
J. (i) The amount of INR 750 crores (which was deposited by JAL pursuant to the orders passed by this Court in the case of Chitra Sharma) and accrued interest thereupon, is the property of JAL and stipulation in the resolution plan concerning its usage by JIL or the resolution applicant cannot be approved. The part of the order of NCLT placing this amount in the asset pool of JIL is set aside.
(ii) The question as to whether any amount is receivable by JIL and/or its homebuyers from JAL, against advance towards construction and with reference to the admitted liability to the tune of INR 195 crores as on 31.03.2020, shall be determined by NCLT after reconciliation of accounts. The amount, if found receivable by JIL, be made over to JIL and the remaining amount together with accrued interest be refunded to JAL in an appropriate account. It is made clear that the present matter being related to CIRP of JIL, no other orders are passed in relation to the amount that would be refunded to JAL because treatment of the said amount in the asset pool of JAL shall remain subject to such orders as may be passed by the competent authority dealing with the affairs of JAL.
K. (i) Clause 23 of Schedule 3 of the resolution plan, providing for extinguishment of security interest of the lenders of JAL could not have been approved by the Adjudicating Authority, particularly in 363 relation to the security interest that has not been discharged. This part of the order dated 03.03.2020 is set aside.
(ii) Adequate provision is required to be made in the resolution plan as regards utilisation of the land bank of 758 acres, that has become available to JIL free from encumbrance, in terms of the judgment dated 26.02.2020 of this Court in the case of Anuj Jain (supra).
L. (i) The impugned order dated 03.03.2020 shall be read as modified in relation to Clause 7 of Schedule 3 of the resolution plan; and the said clause shall stand approved.
(ii) As regards possession/control over the project sites/lands of JIL, it is left open for the resolution applicant to take recourse to the appropriate proceedings in accordance with law, whenever occasion so arise.
M. The Appellate Authority was not justified in providing for an Interim Monitoring Committee for implementation of the resolution plan in question during the pendency of appeals.
Taking into consideration the aforementioned findings, the Court, granted further 45 days for submission of the modified/fresh resolution plans by the resolution applicants, for their consideration by CoC and for submission of report by IRP to the Adjudicating Authority. This extended time includes the reconciliation of accounts of JIL and JAL. The process of reconciliation of accounts may go on alongside the processing of the resolution plans.
The processing of the modified/fresh resolution plans is required to be completed within the extended time and for that matter, the other aspects like reconciliation of accounts between JAL and JIL or resolution of the issues related with the financial creditor of the subsidiary of the corporate debtor shall be the matters to be dealt with separately and decision on the resolution plan by the Committee of Creditors need not wait the resolution of those issues.
Directing IRP to complete the CIRP within the extended time of 45 days, the Court said that it will be open to the IRP to invite modified/fresh resolution plans only from Suraksha Realty and NBCC respectively, giving them time to submit the same within 2 weeks.The IRP shall not entertain any expression of interest by any other person nor shall be required to issue any new information memorandum. The said resolution applicants shall be expected to proceed on the basis of the information memorandum already issued by IRP and shall also take into account the facts noticed and findings recorded in this judgment.
After receiving the resolution plans as aforementioned, the IRP shall take all further steps in the manner that the processes of voting by the CoC and his submission of report to the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) are accomplished in all respects within the extended period of 45 days. The Adjudicating Authority shall take final decision in terms of Section 31 of the Code expeditiously upon submission of report by the IRP.
The Court, however, made clear that the aforementioned directions, particularly for enlargement of time to complete the process of CIRP, were issued in exceptional circumstances of the case at hand and shall not be treated as a precedent.
[Jaypee Kensington Boulevard Apartments Welfare Association v. NBCC (India) Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 253, decided on 24.03.2021]
*Judgment by: Justice Dinesh Maheshwari