Monday, June 11, 2018

NGT orders closure of 8 industrial units in Uttarakhand's Sitarganj industrial area

 The National Green Tribunal has ordered closure of eight industrial units in Uttarakhand's Sitarganj area after the Central Pollution Control Board found them violating pollution norms.
A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore asked the authorities to shut down Gujarat Ambuja Exports Limited, Fleetguard Filters Pvt Ltd, Speciality Industrial Polymers & Coatings Pvt Ltd, Henken Chembond Surface Ace Tech Ltd, Western Consolidated Pvt Ltd, Balaji Action Buildwell Pvt Ltd, Reckitt and Benkiser Unit 1, and Reckitt and Benkiser Unit 2.
"We order that all these industries shall be shut down immediately. The Collector, Uddam Singh Nagar and Superintendent of Police as well as Member Secretary state pollution control board shall ensure that all these industries are shut down forthwith," the bench said.
The tribunal also directed the CPCB to submit a report with respect to the remaining industries which they have already inspected and submit the analysis report by June 18.
It had earlier directed the CPCB to inspect and take samples from industries located in the vicinity of Uttarakhand village of Siddh Garbyang so that the polluting units can be shut.
The tribunal had earlier appointed senior advocate Raj Panjwani and advocate Meera Gopal to assist it on a complaint of the residents of the Uttarakhand village, alleging discharge of untreated chemical effluents in drains by industries located in the vicinity.
The villagers had contended that there was complete violation of environmental laws and pollution norms by a large number of industries at the SIDCUL industrial park, located in the vicinity of Siddh Garbyang.
Terming the situation as alarming, the bench had directed its registry to register the villagers' letter as a petition and asked the Uttarakhand state pollution control board to inspect the industrial units around the village.
The NGT had issued notices to the Uttarakhand government, District Magistrate of Udham Singh Nagar, state pollution control board, and Managing Director of SIDCUL, and sought their responses.
The state pollution board was directed to identify the industries which were discharging untreated effluent and causing air and ground water pollution. It had also been asked to inform the tribunal on whether the industries were complying with the conditions of environment clearance.
The complainants had said the industrial units were spewing black soot which deposited black dust on the village houses, especially in the morning and evening hours due to which it was difficult for the residents to sit outside their houses or do any work.
"During rainy season, the effluent spread over the agriculture fields and even the tube wells of the village are having coloured water which is not fit for human or animal consumption,"

Sunday, June 10, 2018

NCLT admits SBI’s plea against Videocon Telecommunications

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has admitted the insolvency petition filed by State Bank of India (SBI) against Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. This is the second firm promoted by Venugopal Dhoot to be admitted to the insolvency resolution process after the flagship company Videocon Industries.
On Friday, the division bench of NCLT Mumbai, presided over by B.S.V. Prakash Kumar and Ravikumar Duraisamy, admitted the petition by the country’s largest lender and also approved Anuj Jain as the interim resolution professional (IRP).
Animesh Bisht, counsel for the bank, argued that the company had defaulted in the payment of ₹234 crore to SBI and three of its associate banks (now merged with SBI). Of this, Videocon Telecommunications owes ₹193 crore to SBI alone in principal and interest.
A consortium of 18 banks has an exposure of ₹1,700 crore to Videocon Telecommunications, which defaulted on loans and bank guarantees in January 2018.
Zal Andhyarujina, counsel for Videocon Telecommunications, argued that the bank’s petition is defective, as it has not furnished the record of default by the company and that it should be dismissed on technical grounds. “The debt that is claimed by the bank is not the debt at all,” he said. “No notice was given to the company regarding the default and there was no crystallization of the dues by the bank.”
On Wednesday, NCLT admitted Videocon Industries’ case, also approving Jain as IRP. In February, Videocon had filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court asking for a stay on bankruptcy proceedings initiated by SBI in NCLT. It had moved the high court against the Reserve Bank of India’s decision not to extend the timeline as requested by SBI and the Joint Lenders’ Forum to rerate Videocon’s restructuring proposal following changes in cash flows after subsequent changes in the import duty policy.
As per Videocon’s FY17 annual report, it is liable to repay the liability of other group firms to the extent of ₹5,082 crore as of 31 March 2017. Its total debt was ₹19,506 crore as of March last year.

https://www.livemint.com/Companies/19avCLGjeDeidnyFL7IucO/NCLT-admits-SBIs-plea-against-Videocon-Telecommunications.html

Govt to launch fresh drive against shell companies

Over 225,000 companies and 7,000 limited liability partnerships (LLPs) face the threat of being struck off official records, with the government launching a fresh drive against companies defaulting on filing statutory returns.
The identified companies include entities with no economic activity, called defunct companies, as well as those used for financial irregularities, or shell companies.
A total of 225,910 companies and 7,191 LLPs have been identified for regulatory action due to non-filing of financial statements for the two years starting FY16, the corporate affairs ministry said in a statement. The fresh crackdown will be launched this financial year.
The identified entities will be given an opportunity to be heard and action will be taken after considering their response, said the statement.
In an earlier drive launched in the last financial year, the Registrar of Companies (RoCs) had struck off a total of 226,000 companies for having failed to file their financial statements or annual returns for a period of two or more successive financial years.
More than 300,000 directors were also disqualified for non-filing of annual returns by the companies for three years. Disqualified directors will not be in a position to sit on the boards of other companies.
About 14,000 companies got relief under the ‘condonation of delay scheme, 2018’ which was in force for four months from 1 January for regularization of returns.
The removal of the large number of defaulting entities from the records will clean up the system. However, only a small part of the entities struck off from records may have actually been involved in financial fraud.
A task force set up in 2017 to identify shell companies listed 16,537 entities as “confirmed shell companies”. It also listed 16,739 other entities having common directorships with the confirmed shell companies. The task force has also zeroed in on more than 80,000 suspected shell companies. The agencies use certain parameters to identify shell firms, including identifying persons of no means sitting on the board of directors and finding discrepancies between the volume of transactions done by a company and the profits reported.
Regulatory agencies will pursue cases against officers who are in default of statutory obligations even if the company is no longer in existence.
The crackdown highlights the importance of closing down a company as per law as many defaulting firms may actually be cases of entrepreneurs abandoning their venture and not bothering to close down the company as per law, which makes them defaulters for not filing returns in subsequent years. Also, many entrepreneurs open new companies just to hold their intellectual property rights such as trade marks but miss filing the annual returns as such companies have no operations.
“The government expects that its efforts to clean up the registry will create a transparent and compliant corporate ecosystem in India, promote the cause of ‘ease of doing business’ and enhance the trust of the public,” the official statement explained.
Pavan Kumar Vijay, founder of consulting firm Corporate Professionals, said that entities that are in default should be granted the opportunity to rectify the omissions through a simple procedure. This would ensure that struck off entities will not approach company law tribunals which are already overburdened, Vijay added.
The exercise of combing through records to find defaulters as well as those resorting to suspicious transactions has been a key part of the authorities’ strategy to identify instances of black money generation and money laundering.
According to industry observers, businesses often under-report their income or inflate expenses through bogus transactions involving companies that exist only on paper.
Over the last few years, successive governments have taken steps to curb tax evasion as well as funds that are moved out of the country coming back in the form of foreign direct investment. One key step in this regard is the renegotiation of India’s tax treaty with Mauritius.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

China vs China: Coolpad may take Xiaomi to court in India


Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad is open to moving Indian courts against IPO-bound rival Xiaomi over patent infringement, after the company filed seven such cases in China in two different courts since January this year.

Coolpad’s chief intellectual property officer told ET that Indian laws protected patent holders’ interest, which made the South Asian nation’s courts a strong option for litigation, citing the example of Ericsson suing Xiaomi in a local court which lead to an interim bar on sales of specific Xiaomi phones.

“India is one of the key markets, and India has the reputation for protecting intellectual property rights, has better laws and systems to protect patent holders.

As we saw in the Ericsson-Xiaomi case, we feel that India is a good ground for protecting patents,” Zhang said when asked whether the company would file a lawsuit here.

“Because our products are sold in India and we’re a company focused on protecting our IP assets, we will file a case in any country where we have a good chance to get good remedies,” she added.

Coolpad Group’s subsidiary, Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, has filed six cases in Shenzen Intermediate People’s Court, Guangdong province, in January, and one in Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court, Jiangsu province, in May, against Xiaomi Telecom, Xiaomi Technology and Mi Home Business, citing patent infringement and has sought immediate bar on production and sale of certain mobile phone models.

Yulong claims that models including Xiaomi Mi Max 2, Xiaomi Note 3, Xiaomi Mi 5X, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X and Mi Mix 2, use three patents on interface, applications, icon configuration and dual-SIM card and dual-stand-by technologies, which enable basic communication, display and interaction functions that belong to the company. The first hearings are expected in September.

Xiaomi, which has maintained its No 1 position in the Indian smartphone market since December 2017, said that it was aware of the motion filed by Coolpad’s subsidiary in China, but has sought that the patent rights be declared invalid.

“Xiaomi understands that the filing has yet to be accepted by the court. Xiaomi has requested the Patent Reexamination Board of SIPO to declare the invalidation of the three patent rights regarding the above-mentioned patent infringement law suit,” it said in response to ET’s queries.

With the strong growth in smartphone sales, India has become a battleground for lawsuits alleging patent infringement.


A key player in this field is Sweden’s Ericsson which has taken several mobile phone companies including Xiaomi, Micromax, Gionee and iBall to court seeking royalties for using its standard essential patents (SEPs) on 2G and 3G technologies, since 2015.


In the specific case of Xiaomi, the Swedish gear maker got an interim injunction against sale of models using Chinese chipmaker Mediatek’s chipsets in India, which forced Xiaomi to sell only those with chipsets from Qualcomm.


Xiaomi eventually entered into an agreement with the US-based chipmaker, but its lawsuit with Ericsson remains pending in the Delhi High Court.


But not all have been as successful. Indian brands like iBall and Micromax have settled with Ericsson, with Micromax taking a global patent license from Ericsson, under which it will pay royalties on every phone sold in India and overseas which uses 2G or 3G technology.

Supreme Court refuses to stay CLAT counselling process

THE SUPREME Court gave a go-ahead for counselling for students who have cleared the Common Law Entrance Admission Test (CLAT), 2018, for admissions to the country’s top law universities. A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan refused to stay the counselling but clarified that “any further steps in the matter would be subject to further orders” of the court. “We cannot stop it,” the bench said.
Meanwhile, the report of the Grievance Redressal Committee, set up by National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi, to look into complaints about technical glitches during the exam held on May 13, was placed before the court Wednesday.
The bench directed that copies of the same be supplied to the parties. “In the meanwhile, the registry may furnish copies of the report of the Grievance Redressal Committee, appointed vide order dated May 25, to the counsel appearing for the parties,” it said.
The court had directed formation of the committee after some students approached it complaining about glitches in the test held on May 13 causing loss of crucial time.

whether the NCLAT can dismiss a statutory appeal?

 On 18 May 2018, in M/s B Himmatlal Agrawal (Appellant) v Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Anr. [Civil Appeal No. 5029 of 2018], the Supreme Court of India (Supreme Court) distinguished the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) while disposing of a statutory appeal under the Competition Act, 2002 (Competition Act).

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the NCLAT can dismiss a statutory appeal for non-compliance of its interlocutory direction to deposit a portion of the penalty as a condition for grant of interim relief. In this instant case, the Supreme Court set aside part of the NCLAT's order and restored the appeal that had been dismissed by the NCLAT. 

Background

The CCI found the Appellant guilty of rigging the bids for tenders floated by Western Coalfields Limited and correspondingly imposed a penalty of INR 3,61,00,000, which was ordered to be deposited within 60 days (CCI Order). The Appellant filed an appeal before the NCLAT against the CCI Order, seeking inter alia a stay of the penalty deposit. In response, the NCLAT granted a stay against the CCI Order (NCLAT Stay Order), with a condition that the Appellant was to deposit a sum equal to 10% of the total penalty (Deposit). However, the Appellant was unable to execute the Deposit due to financial distress. Consequently, the NCLAT dismissed the appeal on the ground of non-compliance with the NCLAT Stay Order. Being aggrieved, the Appellant filed an appeal against the NCLAT's decision before the Supreme Court.

Decision of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recognised that the right to appeal is provided under Section 53B of the Competition Act and that the said provision does not require any pre-deposit of penalty for entertaining an appeal. The Supreme Court held that the right to appeal granted by a statute cannot be curtailed by imposing a condition of pre-deposit of penalty, which can result in the dismissal of the appeal, if such deposit is not satisfied.
The Supreme Court declared that non-compliance of the NCLAT Stay Order will not impact the substantive appeal. As the condition of deposit was attached to the NCLAT Stay Order, any non-compliance would result in the NCLAT Stay Order ceasing to operate, as the pre-condition is not fulfilled. However, the substantive appeal would have to be decided on merits after giving the involved parties an opportunity to be heard.
As a result, the Supreme Court set aside part of the NCLAT Stay Order and directed that the appeal be restored and decided on merits. The stay order remained vacated on ground of the non-compliance.

http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/707524/Antitrust+Competition/Supreme+Court+Clarifies+NCLATs+Powers+In+Appeal