Gujarat HC dismisses Essar Steel's plea against RBI

17 July, 2017, 20:38 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Court. The court order sets the stage for Essar Steel’s creditors to proceed against the company in the National Company Law Tribunal under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

The Gujarat High Court on Monday disposed of the petition moved by Essar Steel challenging the insolvency proceeding against it by Reserve Bank of India without granting any relief to the company.

Cracking down on bad loans, the RBI last month identified 12 accounts for insolvency proceedings with each of them having over Rs 5,000 crore of outstanding loans, accounting for 25 per cent of total non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks.

More companies expected to follow Essar Steel's footsteps; what does this mean for loan resolution? "It can not be held that directives of RBI under reference by impugned press release are binding upon SCB and therefore SCB is bound to consider the restructuring proposal by the petitioner, wherein petitioner has offered to start payment of dues only after 25 years and that too only with 1% interest".

The company argued before the HC that it should not be treated on par with other eleven accounts (firms) which have been closed now, while Essar Steel is still doing well with an annual turnover of Rs 20,000 crore.

That RBI's decision in picking these 12 accounts was arbitrary inasmuch as no opportunity of being heard was provided to these companies that were being referred to.

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The ruling clears way for the central bank to start loan recovery process against Essar Steel and other defaulters under the amended banking rules that empower the RBI to tackle the country's bad debt issue by dealing directly with lenders and bring defaulters in the insolvency process.

"Only because SCB has corresponded to SBI for its proposal with reference to JLF activities, it cannot be held that SCB could not have initiated insolvency proceedings but it has done it only because of RBI guidelines by way of press release", the order stated.

The Judge also said he has asked RBI to be more careful without giving out any details.

Earlier during the hearings, the RBI had admitted an error in its June 13 press release, which mentioned that."such cases will be accorded priority by the National Company Law Tribunal". "This court is beingmisled", the RBI lawyer had said.

The RBI's counsel disputed the points raised by Essar stating that it was not true that the company was discussing restructuring of repayments with banks. Gujarat's Advocate General Kamal Trivedi appeared for Standard Chartered Bank; He was briefed by Singhi & Co.


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