Whether the secured creditor can file a winding up petition after such secured creditor has obtained a decree from the DRT and a recovery certificate based thereon ?

2019 – ACJ- APEX COURT JUDGMENTS VOL.NO.1/2019 APEX COURT DIGEST VOL.NO.1

14.  the right of a secured creditor to file a winding up petition after such secured creditor has obtained a decree from the Debts Recovery Tribunal [“DRT”] and a recovery certificate based thereon. – The respondent, Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited, advanced various loans to the companies in question. The outstanding amount against these companies as on date, together with interest, is stated to be in the region of INR 48 crores. The respondent approached the Debts Recovery Tribunal, Mumbai by filing three separate original applications to recover the debt owed to them. The Debts Recovery Tribunal delivered three separate judgments on 16.01.2015 allowing the applications filed by the respondent bank. Apparently, the said orders are final as no appeals have been preferred to the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal [“DRAT”], Mumbai. Recovery certificates dated 12.08.2015 for the said amounts were then issued by the Recovery Officer under Section 19(19) of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 [“Recovery of Debts Act”]. We have been informed that various attempts were made to auction the properties that were security for the loans granted, but each of these attempts has yielded no results.- In the meanwhile, the respondent issued statutory notices dated 15.04.2015 under Sections 433 and 434 of the Companies Act, 1956.

As no payments were forthcoming, a company petition was filed before the Bombay High Court on 03.07.2015. By an order dated 26.07.2017, the said petition was admitted as the companies in question were said to be commercially insolvent.- In the appeals that were filed to the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court, the main point argued was that once a secured creditor has obtained an order from the DRT, and a recovery certificate has been issued thereupon, such secured

creditor cannot file a winding up petition as the Recovery of Debts Act is a special Act which vests exclusive jurisdiction in the DRT. Also, a secured creditor can file a winding up petition only on giving up its security, which has not been done in the present case. These contentions did not find favour with the Division Bench who then dismissed the appeals in question.-Section 434(1)(b) is

attracted only if execution or other process is issued in respect of an order of a Tribunal in favour of a creditor of the company is returned unsatisfied in whole or in part. This is only one of three instances in which a company shall be deemed to be unable to pay its debts. If the fact situation fits sub-clause (b) of Section 434(1), then a company may be said to be deemed to be unable to pay its debts. However, this does not mean that each one of the sub-clauses of Section 434(1) are mutually exclusive in the sense that once Section 434(1)(b) applies, Section 434(1)(a) ceases to be applicable. Also, on the facts of this case, we may state that the company petition was filed only on

03.07.2015, pursuant to a notice under Section 433 of the Companies Act, 1956 dated 15.04.2015. This petition was filed under Section 433(e) read with Section 434(1)(a) of the Companies Act, 1956. At the stage at which the petition was filed, it could not possibly have been filed under Section 434(1)(b) of the Companies Act, 1956, as execution or other process in the form of a recovery certificate had not been issued by the Recovery Officer till 12.08.2015, i.e., till after the company petition was filed. For this reason also, it is clear that this contention of the learned counsel appearing for the appellant must be rejected. We may only end by saying that cases like the present one have to be decided by balancing the interest of creditors to whom money is owing, with a debtor company which will now go in the red since a winding up petition is admitted against it. It is not open for

persons like the appellant to resist a winding up petition which is otherwise maintainable without there being any bona fide defence to the same. We may also hasten to add that the respondent cannot be said to be blowing hot and cold in pursuing a remedy under the Recovery of Debts Act and a winding up proceeding under the Companies Act, 1956 simultaneously.