The Supreme Court Monday found that a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) bench had acted in “wilful defiance” of its orders by pronouncing its verdict in a case related to Finolex Cables.
The court, however, decided against continuing contempt proceedings against the two-member bench comprising judicial member Rakesh Kumar and technical member Alok Srivastava, taking note that Kumar had resigned following the developments and Srivastava had apologised unconditionally.
A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud rejected the contention that the NCLAT bench was not made aware of the top court’s order — that the tribunal should give its verdict only after the annual general meeting results of Finolex Cables.
The top court bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, perused the CCTV visuals of the NCLAT proceedings on October 13, underlining that they “leave no manner of doubt” that the NCLAT bench was apprised of the SC order passed earlier the same day.
“It is evident beyond a shadow of doubt that though the NCLAT was duly apprised of this court’s order of the morning session that the judgement shall be delivered only after the AGM results, the NCLAT declined to pay heed to the order of this court,” the court said.
The court added that “the judicial member has stated that if the parties think they are breaching the Supreme Court order then they can go and complain to the Supreme Court…” and that the “NCLAT declined to pay heed to the order of this court.”
Hearing a plea in the morning of October 13, the Supreme Court had asked the scrutiniser to “forthwith declare” the result of the September 29 Annual General Meeting and directed the NCLAT to pronounce its judgement in the pending appeal “after it is duly apprised of the fact that the result of the Annual General Meeting has been declared”.
But in the post-lunch session, the top court was informed that the NCLAT bench had given a verdict despite the appellant’s counsel bringing the SC direction to the members’ notice. The apex court then asked the tribunal’s Chairperson, Justice (retired) Ashok Bhushan, to conduct an inquiry.
Pursuing the reply, the SC bench said: “The technical member has tendered unconditional apology and stated that work related to the control of procedure before the bench and procedure of mentions is conducted by the judicial member…”.
The SC also imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on the company’s former Executive Chairman Deepak Chhabria and the Rs 10 lakh on the scrutiniser and directed them to pay it to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.