Skip to content


Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd. Vs. Shree Arcee Steels P. Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCompany
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 298 of 1980 from Company Petition No. 355 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1985]58CompCas174(Bom)
ActsCompanies Act, 1956 - Sections 434, 439, 439(1) and 439(2)
AppellantBharat Overseas Bank Ltd.
RespondentShree Arcee Steels P. Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....- winding up - sections 434, 439, 439 (1) and 439 (2) of companies act, 1956 - petitioner was secured creditor of company - petition seeking winding up of company - company court denied maintainability of petition as petitioner was secured creditor and machinery of company was already hypothecated in favour of petitioner - court should go into question of sufficiency of security and then exercise its jurisdiction to accept or reject petition - rejection of petition at stage of admission was not justified. - - (2) specifically provides for secured creditors, and may be fully extracted :439. (2) a secured creditor, the holder of any debentures (including debenture stock), whether or not any trustee or trustees have been appointed in respect of such and other like debentures, and..........who were the original petitioning creditors in company petition no. 355 of 1979. the learned company judge, by his order dated february 6, 1980, has dismissed the petition. we have only the bald order recorded in the minutes and we have been told, and we are giving this judgment on that footing, that the dismissal by the learned company judge was on the company's submission that the petitioners being secured creditors were not entitled to maintain a petition for winding up. indeed, this plea has been taken in the affidavit of s.h. daga, a director of the company sought to be wound up, in paragraph 3 (ii). he has claimed in the said paragraph that the machinery of the company sought to be wound up had been hypothecated in favour of petitioners. the charge created by the said.....
Judgment:

Desai, J.

1. This appeal raises an important point of company law and practice. The appeal is preferred by the appellants who were the original petitioning creditors in Company Petition No. 355 of 1979. The learned company judge, by his order dated February 6, 1980, has dismissed the petition. We have only the bald order recorded in the minutes and we have been told, and we are giving this judgment on that footing, that the dismissal by the learned company judge was on the company's submission that the petitioners being secured creditors were not entitled to maintain a petition for winding up. Indeed, this plea has been taken in the affidavit of S.H. Daga, a director of the company sought to be wound up, in paragraph 3 (ii). He has claimed in the said paragraph that the machinery of the company sought to be wound up had been hypothecated in favour of petitioners. The charge created by the said hypothecation has also been duly registered with the Registrar of Companies. According to the deponent, therefore, the petitioner, being a secured creditor, cannot file or maintain the petition for winding up unless he gives up the security.

2. According to Mr. Tulzapurkar, who appears on behalf of appellants/petitioners, this approach is malicious and not warranted by the provisions of the Companies Act. He also submits that there are three decisions of other courts directly contrary to the position which found favour with the learned company judge.

3. At the outset, let us consider the provisions of the Companies Act.

4. Section 439 of the Companies Act, 1956, provides for applications for winding up, and under sub-s. (1) of s. 439, such an application could be presented by any creditor or creditors, including any contingent or prospective creditor or creditors, and sub-s. (2) specifically provides for secured creditors, and may be fully extracted :

'439. (2) A secured creditor, the holder of any debentures (including debenture stock), whether or not any trustee or trustees have been appointed in respect of such and other like debentures, and also the trustee for the holders of debentures, shall be deemed to be creditors within the meaning of clause (b) of sub-section (1).'

5. The position came to be considered, initially, by the Madras High Court in Karnatak Vegetable Oils and Refineries Ltd. v. Madras Industrial Investment Corporation Ltd. [1954] Comp Cas 249 (Mad). That, of course, was a petition under the Indian Companies Act, 1913, but the position has been clearly and extensively considered in the said decision and we may, therefore, advert to the same forthwith. It is pertinent to note that the Division Bench consisting of Rajamannar C.J. and Rajagopala Ayyangar J. were disposing of, by judgment, an appeal preferred, not from such a threshold order as the one before us but from an order directing the winding up of a company. Reliance was placed before the Division Bench on a passage from Buckley on the Companies Acts and a distinction was made between the provisions in Bankruptcy law (law of Insolvency in India) and that existing under Companies Act. On behalf of the company, however, it was urged that the creditor had ample security for his debt and that there was no averment that the security was insufficient. It was also submitted that except for this particular creditor who was the respondent in the appeal, no other creditor desired that the company should be wound up. Under these circumstances, it was urged before the Division Bench that the Division Bench should allow the appeal and vacate the winding up order. After considering the English authorities, the appeal was allowed and the order of the single judge directing the appellant company to be wound up was set aside. As one goes through the judgment, one finds that the court passed the order after considering all aspects, viz., extent of the security, extent of other assets, the views of the other creditors, and after giving full consideration to the several aspects and facets thereof, passed ultimately the order allowing the appeal.

6. The judgment in Karnatak Vegetable Oils and Refineries Ltd. v. Madras Industrial Investment Corporation Ltd. : AIR1955Mad582 , was considered by a single judge of the Calcutta High Court in India Electric Works Ltd., In re, : AIR1970Cal398 . In paragraph 12 of the judgment of the single judge, the learned single judge considered the position and it has been observed and held that it was not necessary for the secured creditors to give up security and that the provisions of law as to bankruptcy were not applicable to a petition for winding up of a company. The relevant discussion is to be found in paragraph 12 of the judgment. It is pertinent to note that this decision was also given not at the threshold state but after the petition was admitted, advertised, and after considering all relevant views, and in particular, the views of other creditors secured as well as unsecured.

7. Finally, we have the decision also of the Calcutta High Court in Calcutta Safe Deposit Co. Ltd. v. Ranjit Mathuradas Sampat : AIR1971Cal78 . In that case, the learned single judge has specifically considered the secured creditors' right to present such petitions, and it has been held that if a secured creditor serves a notice under s. 434 then within the period of the said three weeks, the company must take action in the matter and satisfy the creditor that his claim would either be paid or that his security is intact. According to the Calcutta High Court, if the company would choose not to come to some arrangement, then the same would amount to neglect to pay or to secure or to compound the debt to the reasonable satisfaction of the creditor within the meaning of s. 434 and the deeming provisions that the company is unable to pay its debts would be attracted after the expiry of the period of three weeks mentioned in the section. It has been specifically held and the relevant observations are to be found in paragraphs 31, 32, 33 and 35, that under such circumstances, the secured creditor can pursue the remedy as provided by the Act and ask the winding up court to exercise its discretion and if thought fit to wind up the company. It is pertinent to note in connection with this aspect of the matter that in the affidavit in rejoinder filed on behalf of the petitioning creditors, their principal officer, one Kanayalal Ranchhoddas Shah, has averred in paragraph 3 thereof that the security was totally insufficient and has given necessary particulars in support of his contention.

8. We are of the opinion that bearing in mind the clear provisions of the Companies Act and principles which have been discussed in detail in the Madras High Court and the Calcutta High Court judgments abovecited, the rejection of the petition in this case at the stage of admission was not at all justified. The petition in this case at the stage of admission was not at all justified. The petition was required to be admitted and advertised and it is at that stage that the court could go into the question as to whether the security is sufficient or not and exercise its discretion to accept the petitioning creditor's claims and request for winding up or to reject the same on judicial consideration.

9. In the view that we have taken, the appeal must be allowed and we accordingly so order. Accordingly, the order of the learned company judge dismissing the petition for winding up, which is the order dated February 6, 1980, and which order is impugned in this appeal is set aside. We would ordinarily have passed an order admitting the petition but since a considerable time has elapsed, we think it would be appropriate to allow the parties to put in further affidavits pertaining to the extent of the security held by the petitioning creditors as well as the extent of the debt. In such affidavits, the company can also make or raise such other submissions and contentions as may be appropriate, bearing in mind the law enunciated in the Madras and the Calcutta cases which we expressly approve. We also keep the matter at the pre-admission state to enable the petitioning creditors and the company to arrive at some settlement in respect of the claim without the necessity of advertisement and ascertainment of the views of the other creditors.

10. Accordingly, Company Petition No. 355 of 1979 will stand remanded to the company judge and will be posted for hearing before him in the week commencing April 15, 1985. The company petition to be placed peremptorily for hearing (for admission) on Wednesday the 17th of April, 1985, before the company judge. The company to file any further affidavits, if so advised on or before April 10, 1985. Copy of the same to be furnished to the attorneys or to the advocates of the petitioning creditors on or before April 8, 1985. The petitioning creditors may, thereafter, with leave of the company judge, tender an affidavit by way of reply to the further affidavit, if so advised.

11. Costs of the appeal to be costs in the company petition.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //