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Corporate Debtor, Moratorium under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code?

Corporate Debtor, MORATORIUM UNDER IBC

What is Moratorium?

Since the implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, the word ‘moratorium’ has been construed by the judiciary on different levels. The word ‘Moratorium’ has not been defined anywhere in the code. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it means a legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment.

The moratorium under the code implies a period wherein no judicial proceedings for recovery, enforcement of security interest, sale or transfer of assets, or termination of essential contracts can be initiated or proceeded against the Corporate Debtor.  Under section 13(1)(a) of the Code, the adjudicating authority is required to enforce a moratorium for matters mentioned in section 14.The Adjudicating Authority (NCLT or NCLAT), whilst taking up a petition against the Corporate Debtor is required to declare the moratorium period as described under Section 14 of the Code.

When a corporate debtor goes into Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process [hereinafter alluded to as “CIRP”], after the confirmation of the petition filed against the organization, a moratorium is announced whereby all the pending cases against the insolvent organization before any court have stayed.

When Moratorium Commence?

It comes into effect immediately after the application of provisions under Section 7,9 or 10, as admitted by the Adjudicating Authority. Insolvency Commencement Date is a date on which the moratorium is applied, and insolvency application is submitted.

What is Objective of a Moratorium under IBC?

Its main purpose is to keep the corporate debtor’s assets together during the CIRP and facilitate orderly completion of the process mentioned and to ensure that the company may continue as a going concern. It also ensures a bar upon the directors of the company, who can’t take any available money at the time of declaration of the moratorium. If the said period isn’t declared, the CIRP process will be thwarted which in turn will render the objective of the code null.

Section 14 – Moratorium 

(1)Adjudicating Authority shall by order declare moratorium for prohibiting all of the following, namely

(a) the institution of suits or continuation of pending suits or proceedings against the corporate debtor including execution of any judgment, decree or order in any court of law, tribunal, arbitration panel or other authority.

 

Section 14 (1) (a) Judicial Interpretations: Moratorium

  1. In Anand Rao Korada Resolution vs M/S Varsha Fabrics (P) Ltd., NCLT-Supreme Court held that the High Court ought not to have proceeded with the auction of the property of the Corporate Debtor, once there is an institution of proceedings under IBC. An order reporting moratorium was passed. Provisions regarding a moratorium cannot possibly apply to cash deposits made in the court.
  2. In India Infoline Finance Ltd. Vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors., it was held that any action of police must be based on the investigation, and it can’t take additional steps in the matter unless and until the CIRP ends, in a resolution or otherwise.
  3. The arbitration proceedings cannot go on, once the moratorium is imposed under S.14(1)(a). This was discussed in Alchemist Asset Reconstruction … vs M/S. Hotel Gaudavan Pvt. Ltd.
  4. Personal/Individual Assets of a director is not the subject matter of CIRP, and the moratorium only extends to the assets of the Corporate Debtor. Held in Suresh Chand Garg Vs. Aditya Birla Finance Ltd.
  5. The NCLAT in Canara Bank v. Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited carved out an exception holding that the moratorium will not affect any proceedings initiated or pending before the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India or where an order is passed under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. It also concluded that the moratorium will not affect the powers of any High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
  6. Clause (c) of the section mentions the term ‘security interest’, it doesn’t include the Performance Bank Guarantee.

Section 14(2): Continuance of Critical Supplies

It states that the supply of essential goods or services to the corporate debtor as may be specified shall not be terminated or suspended or interrupted during the moratorium period. As per Regulation 32 of Insolvency & Bankruptcy (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.

Essential supplies mentioned in Section14(2) shall mean:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Telecommunication Service
  • Information Technology Services

NCLT Bench of Hyderabad, in Canara Bank v. Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited, held that with the above-mentioned essential supplies, printing ink, printing plates, printing blankets, solvents, etc. will also come under the purview of exemption from the moratorium. It shall not be terminated or suspended during the period.

Section 14(3): Retrospective Effect

After the amendment through an ordinance, the assets of corporate guarantors or personal guarantors of the corporate debtor will not get the protection of stay provisions under section 14.

NCLAT, New Delhi in Alpha and Omega Diagnostics (India)Ltd. V Asset Reconstruction Company of India held that the personal properties of the promoters were given to the bank as security. It held that the said section only applies to assets of the corporate debtor and would not bar proceedings or actions against assets of third parties.

 

Retrospective Effect,

Through the 2018 Amendment, it was held that the moratorium provisions will not apply to a surety in a contract of guarantee for the corporate debtor, is retrospective.

Section 14(4): Commencement & Effective Period

This section sets out the limit for which the moratorium can be in effect, that is until the completion of the CIRP or on the approval of a resolution plan under Section 31 by the adjudicating authority or on a resolution of the committee of creditors to liquidate the corporate debtor under Section 33, whichever is earlier.

According to Section 12, the CIRP shall be completed within 180 days from the date of admission of the application, and the period can only be extended by 90 days, subject to an application being made to the adjudicating authority after a resolution is passed at a meeting of the committee of creditors by a vote of 75% of the voting share.

Section 74: Punishment for Contravention

Under this Section, officials of the corporate debtor who knowingly or wilfully violate the moratorium provisions can be imprisoned for a min. of three years, which may extend up to five years. Min. fine is of one lakh and max. is up to five lakhs, or with both.

If any creditor violates then the imprisonment is the same as above. The min. imprisonment is one year, and max. is up to five years whereas the min. the fine is one lakh and max. fine which can be imposed is up to one crore, or with both.

Where any corporate debtor or an officer or a creditor on whom the approved resolution plan is binding under Section 31, knowingly or wilfully contravenes any of its terms or abets, the min punishment is of one year which may extend up to five years, whereas the min. the fine is one lakh which may extend up to one crore, or with both.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be stated that IBC is silent on the aspect of the definition of moratorium and what proceedings will fall under the ambit of Section 14 of the IBC would still require judicial assessment. Nonetheless, the language of Section 14 of IBC is wide and the intention of the legislature is also to provide complete calm period. However, the Appellate Authority has carved out an exception to the moratorium in the matter of Deccan Chronicle7 and has held that the moratorium even in favor of the Corporate Debtor is also not absolute and it will not affect the proceedings before the Hon’ble High Court and Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 32, 136 and 226/227 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the issue whether the proceedings under Section 138 of NI Act will also be covered under the umbrella of moratorium and to what extent would still necessitate judicial examination and only time will set the issue at rest.

 

Author: Mohit Mathur

Editor: Adv. Aditya Bhatt & Adv. Chandni Joshi

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process

INTRODUCTION

In India, the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (“CIRP”) takes place under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”). It involves a Resolution Professional inviting resolution plans for the corporate debtor undergoing insolvency. These plans are submitted by various Resolution Applicants and the best resolution plan is approved by the Committee of Creditors and sanctioned by the National Company Law Tribunal. Thus, from an acquisition perspective, the potential acquirer of the stressed asset is required to provide the best bid (in the form of the resolution plan) for the stressed asset which would be able to garner the approval of the Committee of Creditors.

Corporate Insolvency and Resolution Process - iPleaders

 

CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN CORPORATE INSOLVENCY RESOLUTION PROCESS TRIGGERED.

Corporate social insolvency process has been defined under the Chapter II of IBC licensed professional administrators the resolution process, manages the assets of the debtor, and provides information for creditors to assist them in decision making. The CIRP Triggered under Section 6 of IBC that is Where any corporate debtor commits a default, a financial creditor, an operational creditor or the corporate debtor itself may initiate a corporate insolvency resolution process in respect of such corporate debtor in the manner as provided under preceding sections of chapter II of IBC like under section 7 Financial creditor can initiate the the resolution process by giving an application of corporate insolvency resolution process. (CIRP), same can be done by Operational creditor under section 8 & Section 9 and by Corporate applicant under section 10.

Section 7: Initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by financial creditor.

(1) A financial creditor either by itself or jointly with other financial creditors, or any other person on behalf of the financial creditor, as may be notified by the Central Government may file an application for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process against a corporate debtor before the Adjudicating Authority when a default has occurred.

Provided that for the financial creditors, referred to in clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (6A) of section 21, an application for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process against the corporate debtor shall be filed jointly by not less than one hundred of such creditors in the same class or not less than ten per cent. of the total number of such creditors in the same class, whichever is less:

Provided further that for financial creditors who are allottees under a real estate project, an application for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process against the corporate debtor shall be filed jointly by not less than one hundred of such allottees under the same real estate project or not less than ten per cent. of the total number of such allottees under the same real estate project, whichever is less:

Provided also that where an application for initiating the corporate insolvency resolution process against a corporate debtor has been filed by a financial creditor referred to in the first and second provisos and has not been admitted by the Adjudicating Authority before the commencement of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Act, 2020, such application shall be modified to comply with the requirements of the first or second proviso within thirty days of the commencement of the said Act, failing which the application shall be deemed to be withdrawn before its admission.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-section, a default includes a default in respect of a financial debt owed not only to the applicant financial creditor but to any other financial creditor of the corporate debtor.

(2) The financial creditor shall make an application under sub-section (1) in such form and manner and accompanied with such fee as may be prescribed.

(3) The financial creditor shall, along with the application furnish—

(a) record of the default recorded with the information utility or such other record or evidence of default as may be specified.
(b) the name of the resolution professional proposed to act as an interim resolution professional and
(c) any other information as may be specified by the Board.

(4) The Adjudicating Authority shall, within fourteen days of the receipt of the application under sub-section (2), ascertain the existence of a default from the records of an information utility or on the basis of other evidence furnished by the financial creditor under sub-section (3).

Provided that if the Adjudicating Authority has not ascertained the existence of default and passed an order under sub-section (5) within such time, it shall record its reasons in writing for the same.

(5) Where the Adjudicating Authority is satisfied that—

(a) a default has occurred and the application under sub-section (2) is complete, and there is no disciplinary proceedings pending against the proposed resolution professional, it may, by order, admit such application; or

(b) default has not occurred or the application under sub-section (2) is incomplete or any disciplinary proceeding is pending against the proposed resolution professional, it may, by order, reject such application:

Provided that the Adjudicating Authority shall, before rejecting the application under clause (b) of sub-section (5), give a notice to the applicant to rectify the defect in his application within seven days of receipt of such notice from the Adjudicating Authority.

(6) The corporate insolvency resolution process shall commence from the date of admission of the application under sub-section (5).

(7) The Adjudicating Authority shall communicate—
(a) the order under clause (a) of sub-section (5) to the financial creditor and the corporate debtor;

(b) the order under clause (b) of sub-section (5) to the financial creditor,

within seven days of admission or rejection of such application, as the case may be.

Section 8: Insolvency resolution by operational creditor.

(1) An operational creditor may, on the occurrence of a default, deliver a demand notice of unpaid operational debtor copy of an invoice demanding payment of the amount involved in the default to the corporate debtor in such form and manner as may be prescribed.

(2) The corporate debtor shall, within a period of ten days of the receipt of the demand notice or copy of the invoice mentioned in sub-section (1) bring to the notice of the operational creditor—

(a) existence of a dispute, if any, or record of the pendency of the suit or arbitration proceedings filed before the receipt of such notice or invoice in relation to such dispute.

(b) the payment of unpaid operational debt—

(i) by sending an attested copy of the record of electronic transfer of the unpaid amount from the bank account of the corporate debtor or

(ii) by sending an attested copy of record that the operational creditor has encashed a cheque issued by the corporate debtor.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, a “demand notice” means a notice served by an operational creditor to the corporate debtor demanding payment of the operational debt in respect of which the default has occurred.

After the expiry of the period of ten days from the date of delivery of the notice or invoice demanding payment under sub-section (1) of section 8, if the operational creditor does not receive payment from the corporate debtor or notice of the dispute under sub-section (2) of section 8, the operational creditor may file an application before the Adjudicating Authority for initiating a corporate insolvency resolution process under Section 9.

Section 10-Initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by corporate applicant.

(1) Where a corporate debtor has committed a default, a corporate applicant thereof may file an application for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process with the Adjudicating Authority.

(2) The application under sub-section (1) shall be filed in such form, containing such particulars and in such manner and accompanied with such fee as may be prescribed.
(3) The corporate applicant shall, along with the application, furnish-

(a) the information relating to its books of account and such other documents for such period as may be specified.

(b) the information relating to the resolution professional proposed to be appointed as an interim resolution professional and

(c) the special resolution passed by shareholders of the corporate debtor or the resolution passed by at least three-fourth of the total number of partners of the corporate debtor, as the case may be, approving filing of the application.

(4) The Adjudicating Authority shall, within a period of fourteen days of the receipt of the application, by an order—

(a) admit the application, if it is complete and no disciplinary proceeding is pending against the proposed resolution professional; or

(b) reject the application, if it is incomplete or any disciplinary proceeding is pending against the proposed resolution professional :

Provided that Adjudicating Authority shall, before rejecting an application, give a notice to the applicant to rectify the defects in his application within seven days from the date of receipt of such notice from the Adjudicating Authority.

(5) The corporate insolvency resolution process shall commence from the date of admission of the application under sub-section (4) of this section.

“10A. Notwithstanding anything contained in Sections 7, 9 and 10, no application for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process of a corporate debtor shall be filed, for any default arising on or after 25th March, 2020 for a period of six months or such further period, not exceeding one year from such date as may be notified in this behalf.”

Provided that no application shall ever be filed for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process of a corporate debtor for the said default occurring during the said period.

Explanation- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby clarified that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any default committed under the said sections before 25th March, 2020.

Further Committee of creditor is to be made under Section 21 of IBC The committee of creditors shall comprise all financial creditors of the corporate debtor party to whom a corporate debtor owes a financial debt shall not have any right of representation, participation or voting in a meeting of the committee of creditors Whereas the corporate debtor owes financial debts to two or more financial creditors as part of a consortium or agreement, each such financial creditor shall be part of the committee of creditors and their voting share shall be determined on the basis of the financial debts owed to them, The Board may specify the manner of determining the voting share in respect of financial debts issued as securities under sub-section (6) of Section 21. When a corporate debtor is accepted into the CIRP (Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process), it checks the board of directors. Further, the management is placed under an independent “interim resolution professional”. From this and till the end of the CIRP (Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process), the management ceases to have any control over the activities of the company.

MORATORIUM

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