National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, New Delhi: In a case related to the initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) against Go Airlines (India) Ltd. (Corporate Debtor), a Division bench comprising of Ashok Bhushan, J., and Barun Mitra (Technical Member), ordered that the inspection of the aircraft engines be permitted within 10 days from the date of the order. The Court clarified that the observations made by the Adjudicating Authority in its order were at a prima facie stage and should not be treated as a final expression of opinion.
The instant matter involves an appeal filed by the appellant (Engine Lease Finance B.V.), a lessor of aircraft engines, against an order dated 26-07-2023, issued by the Adjudicating Authority. The Appellant filed an application seeking interim prayer to “direct the Corporate Debtor to pass urgent interim directions and grant necessary permissions to allow the Applicant to depute an agency or an inspector to conduct inspection of the Four Engines.”
The Adjudicating Authority, vide order dated 26-07-2023, considered the interim prayer and denied it. The Adjudicating Authority’s reasoning was that the Resolution Professional (RP), under Section 25 of the IBC, has a duty to maintain the assets at the highest level of efficiency and safety. The Authority also noted that inspection is not an end in itself but should lead to curative or remedial actions. It was further stated that allowing inspection would impede the effective discharge of the RP’s duties, which include protecting and maintaining the assets as required for the Corporate Debtor’s viability.
The appellant contended that the RP had sent a letter on 05-06-2023, acknowledging the request for inspection and indicating that an opportunity for inspection would be provided after addressing logistical issues. The appellant claimed that the Delhi High Court vide order dated 05-07-2023 directed the DGCA and Airport Authorities to permit inspection of parked aircrafts within three days.
Whether the appellant be granted permission to inspect the aircraft engines, which were leased to the Corporate Debtor, Go Airlines, and were currently under the control of the RP?
The NCLAT disagreed with the Adjudicating Authority’s decision and held that the refusal of inspection need not be approved. The NCLAT noted that the Delhi High Court had already directed aircraft lessors to be permitted to inspect their respective aircraft in a similar situation. Since the Appellate Court had not interfered with the direction pertaining to inspection in the Delhi High Court’s order, the NCLAT found that inspection should be allowed.
The Adjudicating Authority's order refusing the inspection to the appellant was not approved.
Considering the Delhi High Court order, the appellant was granted permission for inspection, to be conducted within 10 days from the date of this order.
The observations made in the impugned order were considered prima facie and not treated as a final expression of opinion.
Both parties’ contentions were left open for further consideration by the Adjudicating Authority.
The Adjudicating Authority was directed to endeavor to dispose of the application at the earliest.
The NCLAT disposed of the appeal.
[Engine Lease Finance B.V v. Resolution Professional of Go Airlines (India) Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine NCLAT 505, order dated 18-08-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Anand Venkatramani, Mr. Saket Satapathy, Mr. Anubhav Dutta, Mr. J Shiva Kumar, Ms. Priyal Shah, Ms. Nikita Sharma, Counsel for the Appellant
Mr. Ramji Srinivasan, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Vishnu Shriram, Mr. Yugam Taneja, Ms. Namrata Saraogi, Mr. Kartik Pandey, Counsel for the Respondents