INDIAN FINANCE MINISTER ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY CODE DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Coronavirus has caused a global turmoil putting the economies of several countries in a crisis. Desperate times call for desperate measures, compelling the Finance Minister to take measures protecting the economy as best as it can. One of the #quickmeasures taken by the #FinanceMinister is to curtail small and medium enterprises going under due to pandemic. The Finance Minister has, therefore, made changes in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy laws to #protectseveralbusinesses from going into #bankruptcy.

The following are the changes initiated by the Finance Ministry:

1- The Government has recently raised the #threshold under Section 4 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 as amended thereof(IBC) for #invokinginsolvencyproceedings to Rs 1 Crore from the current Rs 1 Lakh limit, on 24.03.2020.

2- The Government is considering #suspendingtheprocessofinitiation of corporate insolvency resolution proceedings (CIRP) against corporate debtors, if the Corona Pandemic continues beyond 30.04.2020, under the following provisions of IBC, for a period of six months. This measure is probably being considered so as to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings due to force majeure causes of default.

3- As part of the relief measures, the Finance Minister has also stated no additional fee will be charged for late filing during a moratorium period from 01.04.2020 to 30.09.2020. In respect of any documents to be filed in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Registry irrespective of its due date.

For the convenience of the readers, we have reproduced the Sections 7, 9, and 10 of IBC below:

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 subsection (6A) of section 21, an application for initiation 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 or 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 provisos as the case may be 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 9: Application for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by operational creditor

(1) 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 subsection (2) of section 8, the operational creditor may file an application before the Adjudicating Authority for initiating a corporate insolvency resolution process.

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

(3) The operational creditor shall, along with the application furnish-

(a) a copy of the invoice demanding payment or demand notice delivered by the operational creditor to the corporate debtor;

(b) an affidavit to the effect that there is no notice given by the corporate debtor relating to a dispute of the unpaid operational debt;

(c) a copy of the certificate from the financial institutions maintaining accounts of the operational creditor confirming that there is no payment of an unpaid operational debt by the corporate debtor, if available;

(d) a copy of any record with information utility confirming that there is no payment of an unpaid operational debt by the corporate debtor, if available; and

(e) any other proof confirming that there is no payment of any unpaid operational debt by the corporate debtor or such other information, as may be prescribed.

(4) An operational creditor initiating a corporate insolvency resolution process under this section, may propose a resolution professional to act as an interim resolution professional.

(5) The Adjudicating Authority shall, within fourteen days of the receipt of the application under sub-section (2), by an order–

(i) admit the application and communicate such decision to the operational creditor and the corporate debtor if, –

(a) the application made under sub-section (2) is complete;

(b) there is no payment of the unpaid operational debt;

(c) the invoice or notice for payment to the corporate debtor has been delivered by the operational creditor;

(d) no notice of dispute has been received by the operational creditor or there is no record of dispute in the information utility; and

(e) there is no disciplinary proceeding pending against any resolution professional proposed under sub-section (4), if any.

(ii) reject the application and communicate such decision to the operational creditor and the corporate debtor, if –

(a) the application made under sub-section (2) is incomplete;

(b) there has been payment of the unpaid operational debt;

(c) the creditor has not delivered the invoice or notice for payment to the corporate debtor;

(d) notice of dispute has been received by the operational creditor or there is a record of dispute in the information utility; or

(e) any disciplinary proceeding is pending against any proposed resolution professional:

Provided that Adjudicating Authority, shall before rejecting an application under subclause (a) of clause (ii) give a notice to the applicant to rectify the defect in his application within seven days of the date 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) of this section.

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 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.

Sushila Ram Varma

Chief Legal Consultant

The Indian Lawyer

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