Anand Murti vs Soni Infratech Private Limited on 27 April, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Anand Murti vs Soni Infratech Private Limited on 27 April, 2022

Author: B.R. Gavai

Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai

                                            NON­REPORTABLE

             IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
             CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


              CIVIL APPEAL NOS.7534 OF 2021

ANAND MURTI                                 ...APPELLANT(S)

                     VERSUS
SONI INFRATECH PRIVATE LIMITED
& ANR.                                    ...RESPONDENT(S)


                           ORDER

B.R. GAVAI, J.

1. The present appeal challenges the order passed by the

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, Principal Bench,

New Delhi (hereinafter referred to as “the NCLAT”) dated 22 nd

November, 2021, in I.A. No.1115 of 2020 in Company Appeal

(AT) (Insolvency) No. 1507 of 2019, thereby rejecting the

Modification Application filed by the appellant herein. Vide the

1
impugned order, the NCLAT observed that, in the meantime, if

settlement takes place between the parties for completion of the

housing project, the same can be filed under Section 12A of the

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (hereinafter referred to

as “the IBC”) before the Adjudicating Authority. The NCLAT

also directed the Interim Resolution Professional (“IRP” for

short)/Resolution Professional (“RP” for short) to hold the

meeting of the Committee of Creditors (hereinafter referred to as

“CoC”) within ten days from the date of order and decide the

future course of action about a resolution for completion of the

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (hereinafter referred to

as “CIRP”) of the respondent No.1­company (hereinafter referred

to as “the Corporate Debtor”).

2. The facts in brief giving rise to the present appeal are as

under:

3. The appellant herein is the Suspended Director of the

Corporate Debtor. The respondent No.2 herein had booked a

flat in the housing project launched by the Corporate Debtor.

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Subsequently, vide a letter dated 31 st July, 2018, the

respondent No.2 cancelled the booking and demanded refund of

the amount of Rs.32,27,591/­ from the Corporate Debtor.

4. On failure of the appellant in refunding the amount, the

respondent No.2 filed an application under Section 7 of the IBC

against the Corporate Debtor for initiation of CIRP before the

National Company Law Tribunal, New Delhi (hereinafter

referred to as “the NCLT”). The NCLT vide order dated 22 nd

November, 2019, admitted the said application and appointed

an IRP. The IRP was directed to initiate the CIRP of the

Corporate Debtor as per the provisions of the IBC.

5. The appellant being aggrieved by the order dated 22 nd

November, 2019, filed an appeal before the NCLAT, being

Company Appeal (AT) (Insolvency) No.1507 of 2019. The

NCLAT vide its order dated 19 th December, 2019, issued notice

and passed an interim order, thereby directing the IRP not to

constitute CoC.

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6. It was submitted by the appellant herein before the NCLAT

that he was ready and willing to settle the matter with the

respondent No.2. It was further submitted by him that the

project was complete almost to the extent of 70­75% and that

he had arranged the funds/private financier to complete the

project.

7. In light of the submission made by the appellant herein,

the NCLAT vide order dated 31 st January, 2020, directed the

appellant herein to file proposed settlement terms/plan

disclosing all material particulars with regard to completion of

the housing project. Accordingly, the appellant herein

submitted/filed the proposed settlement terms/plan on 13 th

February, 2020. The IRP had submitted his status report a day

prior, on 12th February, 2020, stating therein that most of the

Allottees decided to have possession of the flats. In the

meantime, the appellant settled the matter with the respondent

No.2 herein. Despite the settlement with the respondent No.2

and appellant’s readiness and willingness to complete the

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project, the NCLAT, vide order dated 26 th February, 2020,

modified the interim order dated 19 th December, 2019 and

directed the IRP to go ahead with the constitution of CoC and

carry forward the CIRP. The said order dated 26 th February,

2020 was passed by the NCLAT on the ground that the

settlement arrived at by the appellant was only with the

respondent No.2 and the settlement plan did not encompass all

the Allottees.

8. The appellant therefore approached this Court by way of

Civil Appeal No. 1928 of 2020. This Court vide order dated 5 th

March, 2020, permitted the appellant to approach the NCLAT

for modification of the order dated 26 th February, 2020, so as to

present the settlement plan covering all the Allottees. Vide the

said order of this Court dated 5 th March, 2020, liberty was also

granted to the appellant to approach this Court again in case

the modification application was not allowed.

9. Pursuant thereto, the appellant filed the modification

application being I.A. No.1115 of 2020 in Company Appeal (AT)

5
(Insolvency) No.1507 of 2019 before the NCLAT. However, the

NCLAT vide the impugned order dated 22 nd November, 2021,

has rejected the said application for modification and passed

the order as aforesaid. Being aggrieved, the appellant has

approached this Court by way of present appeal.

10. We have heard Shri Shyam Divan, learned Senior Counsel

appearing on behalf of the appellant, Shri D.N. Goburdhun,

learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicants­

home­buyers and Shri Abhigya Kushwah, learned counsel

appearing on behalf of the respondent No.1/ IRP/applicant.

11. Shri Shyam Divan, learned Senior Counsel, would submit

that in pursuance to the liberty granted by this Court, the

appellant had moved the NCLAT placing on record the

settlement with all the stakeholders. He submitted that not only

that but in pursuance to an order passed by the NCLAT dated

29th September, 2021, a special meeting of the stakeholders

was convened on 23rd October, 2021, wherein the IRP, the

representatives of the Corporate Debtor, the financial creditors,

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ten representatives of home­buyers and the lawyers

representing home­buyers were present. He submitted that the

perusal of the minutes of the meeting dated 23 rd October, 2021

would show that there was a settlement between the appellant

and the home­buyers almost on all counts. It is submitted

that, however, the NCLAT, without taking into consideration the

minutes of the said meeting, has erroneously passed the

impugned order, thereby holding that there was no settlement

with all the home­buyers and that there was trust deficit

amongst the home­buyers. He submitted that not only this but

Shri Kashi Nath Shukla, the Promoter of the Corporate Debtor,

has filed an undertaking on an affidavit, thereby undertaking to

complete the project within the stipulated period. He therefore

submits that it is in the interest of the home­buyers that the

reverse CIRP should be permitted to be continued in

accordance with the decision taken in the meeting dated 23 rd

October, 2021.

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12. Shri D.N. Goburdhun, learned Senior Counsel strongly

opposes the prayer made on behalf of the appellant. He

submits that the appellant is not at all interested in completing

the project. He submits that the proposed settlement

terms/plan is not a bona fide one but only to delay the

completion of the project. He submits that the initiation of

CIRP proceedings would ensure the completion of the project

and would be in the interest of the home­buyers. He therefore

prays for dismissal of the present appeal.

13. Shri Abhigya Kushwah, learned counsel, would submit

that most of the home­buyers are interested in getting the

possession of the flats. He therefore submits that this Court

may pass appropriate orders taking into consideration the

interests of the purchasers of the flats.

14. A perusal of the record would reveal that after the order

was passed by this Court on 5th March, 2020, the appellant

submitted a Revised Proposed Settlement Plan on 15 th March,

2021. The IRP also submitted its Revised Status Report on 25 th

8
March, 2021 before the NCLAT. An email dated 9 th July, 2021,

addressed by Senior Investment Associate, SBI Cap Ventures

Ltd.­SWAMIH Investment Fund to Shri Kashi Nath Shukla, the

Promoter of the Corporate Debtor, was also placed on record

before the NCLAT. When the matter was listed before the

NCLAT on 29th September, 2021, the NCLAT directed the

IRP/RP, who was present before the NCLAT, to convene a

meeting of CoC within four weeks to consider the modified

Resolution Plan. The NCLAT further directed that home­buyers

may nominate not more than 10 persons, who will participate

in the meeting and represent them. The NCLAT further

directed that the promoters and the authorized persons of

Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (Financier)

would also participate in the meeting so that they can explain

the elements of the modified Resolution Plan to the home­

buyers. The IRP/RP was directed to place on record the

minutes of the meeting after the meeting was convened. The

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matter was thereafter directed to be listed for hearing on 15 th

November, 2021.

15. In accordance with the directions issued by the NCLAT, a

meeting was convened on 23rd October, 2021. A perusal of the

minutes of the meeting dated 23 rd October, 2021 would reveal

that the ‘Modified Resolution Plan’ submitted by the Promoter

was presented on a Digital Screen. During the presentation,

some home­buyers requested for further modification of some

contentious points of the ‘Modified Resolution Plan’. The

perusal of the minutes of the said meeting would further reveal

that most of the concerns as expressed on behalf of the home­

buyers were taken care of by the statement made on behalf of

the Promoters.

16. It is further to be noted that the Status Report came to be

filed by the IRP before the NCLAT on 3 rd November, 2021. The

said Status Report of the IRP would reveal that the Promoter,

Shri Kashi Nath Shukla had informed that he would file an

addendum to his ‘Modified Resolution Plan’ to include the

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points of home­buyers and to amend the plan as per

discussions in the Meeting.

17. However, by the impugned order dated 22 nd November,

2021, the NCLAT has rejected the application for modification

and directed the CIRP to be continued.

18. It could thus be seen that though a meeting of various

stakeholders was conducted on 23rd October, 2021 in

pursuance to the directions issued by the NCLAT dated 29 th

September, 2021 and in which meeting most of the issues stood

resolved, the NCLAT has failed to take into consideration the

minutes of the said meeting dated 23 rd October, 2021. Not only

that, but the NCLAT has also not taken into consideration the

Revised Status Report dated 3rd November, 2021 submitted by

the IRP.

19. An additional affidavit dated 27 th December, 2021, has

now been filed by the Promoter, Shri Kashi Nath Shukla before

11
this Court. It will be relevant to reproduce the same, which is

as under:

“IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7534 OF 2021

IN THE MATTER OF:

            ANAND MURTI                 ... APPELLANT
                               VERSUS
            Soni Infratech Pvt. Ltd
            & Anr.                 ... RESPONDENTS

                                AFFIDAVIT
            “I K.N. Shukla son of Sh Kailash Nath

Shukla resident of C­35 Sector 30, Noida, UP
201301 around 68 Years age and the major
share holder of M/S K N Consultant pvt Ltd.
which is promoter of M/S Soni Infratech Pvt
Ltd, (Corporate Debtor) Having its Registered
office at 517 A, Narain Manzil, 23,
Barakhmbha Road Connaught place, New
Delhi­110001, presently do hereby solemnly
affirm and state as under:

1. That I am conversant with the facts of the
case as such I am competent to affirm
this affidavit.

2. That I am the original land owner and
existing promoter of the Corporate Debtor
and I say that I have purchased the land
in 2007 for the development of the project
of the corporate debtor i.e. M/S Soni
Infratech Pvt Ltd.

12

3. That I have given the land for the
development to “SPIRE Group” to develop
the project vide development Agreement.
And accordingly the Development and
management of the project transferred to
erstwhile promoters i.e. Mr. Sunil Gandhi
and Mr. Ashish Bhalla of “Spire Group”.

4. That SPIRE Group has launched the
project and collected the booking from
the home buyers for the said project and
appointed construction company ERA
Group to complete the project.

5. That After construction of 30­40% work,
ERA Group has stopped the work due to
inter­se dispute in the ERA group which
lead to multiple litigation between the
erstwhile promoters.

6. That I have discussed about the delay of
the project and after a long discussion
and series of meeting, I managed to take
back the management of the project in
2017.

7. That I have terminated the Civil contract
of ERA and appointed the new contractor
i.e. M/s Indsao Infratech and within a
period of 18 months we have managed to
complete approx 70% of total
construction of the project by mid of
2018. The Enclosed Construction audit
report by “Qonquest” confirms the stage
as approx 70% completed.

8. That I have approached Financial
Creditor M/s Edelweiss to grant further
loan to complete the project. But Due to
stay granted by NCLT in CP No.
N0.175/241/242/(ND)/ 2018 arises in

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the inter­se disputes between Mr. Sunil
Gandhi and Mr. Ashish Bhalla, 50% of
shares of the corporate Debtor could not
be pledged in favour of M/s Edelweiss.

Thus, the Edelweiss has not disbursed
the funds for the construction.

9. That in June 2019, I managed to get
100% share back after the Hon’ble NCLT
decided the matter in CP No
175/241/242/(ND)/2018.

10. That before I could arrange more funds,
an application in case title Balram Singh
Vs. Soni Infratech Private Limited vide its
order dated 22.11.2019 for the CIRP got
admitted.

11. That suspended Director has preferred
an Appeal before Hon’ble NCLAT and
Hon’ble NCLAT vide it order dated
19.12.2019 were pleased to grant stay on
CIRP.

12. That as per the direction of the Hon’ble
NCLAT, i have filed the settlement
terms/Resolution Plan with all details
pertaining how this project will be
managed to be completed with funds
planning and repayment to all Creditors.

13. That I say that I will complete the stage
wise construction within 6 months to 15
months (+/­ 3 Months) in phased manner
from the date of Order.

  Particulars        Tower     Time      in
                               Months (+/­
                               3 Months)

  Stage­I            T8­T12 Within       6­9

                    14
                             months
  Stage­II          T1­T4    Within 12
                             months
  Stage­III         T5­T7    Within 15
                             months

14. That I say, I had committed in open
  court and accordingly arranged Rs 10

Crore to start the project immediately
without any delay and I will ensure this
will be started within 15­30 days.

15. That I have already agreed in my
Resolution plan that the Cost of the Flat
will not be escalated and agreed to honor
the BBA signed by the previous
management.

16. That as per the data before the LD IRP
only 9 home buyers out of 452 Home
Buyers wanted the refund and in my
Resolution Plan I have agreed to refund
the amount after completion of the
project of Phase­1.

17. That I have stated all relevant data and
computation in details in my Resolution
Plan that how the funds will be utilized
and how the construction work can be
completed in time.

18. That I have stated in my last modified
resolution plan that SBI Cap Vetures Ltd
has already shown interest for further
Loan of 100 Crore to me.

19. That as per the direction of Hon’ble
NCLAT I have attended the meeting with
the Representative of the Home Buyers
and I have already accepted and agreed
to Incorporate the suggestions and

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objections of the Home Buyers to the
Resolution Plan and the same has been
recorded by the LD IRP in the Minutes of
the Meeting dated 23.10.2021.

20. That I have also given my consent to
make a team of 5 person, 2 from buyer
side and 2 from management side and
will be monitored by Ld IRP

21. That this affidavit to the additional
documents in the present Civil Appeal
have been read by me and are found true
and correct to my knowledge and belief.

22. That the Annexures are true copies of
their respective originals.

23. That the facts stated in the above
affidavit are true and correct to my
personal knowledge and belief.

24. That No part of the same is false and
nothing material have been concealed
there from.

DEPONENT
VERIFICATION
I, the above named deponent do hereby
verify that the facts stated in the above
affidavit are true to my knowledge and
belief which I believe to be true. No part
of the same is false and nothing material
has been concealed there from.

Verified at New Delhi, on this 27th day of
December, 2021.

DEPONENT”

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20. The Promoter, Shri Kashi Nath Shukla has also filed an

undertaking, thereby undertaking to return the money with

interest at the rate of 6% per annum of seven applicants in I.A.

No.11358 of 2022 (for impleadment) in the present appeal, who

were objecting to the Settlement Plan submitted by the

appellant. The same is taken on record and marked ‘X’ for

identification.

21. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of

the present case, we find that it will be in the interest of the

home­buyers if the appellant/promoter is permitted to complete

the housing project. The salient features of the undertaking

given on affidavit are as under:

(a) That the project will be completed stage­wise within a

period of 6 months to 15 months (+/­ 3 months) in a

phased manner;

(b)That the promoter has arranged an amount of Rs. 10

crores to start the project immediately without any delay

17
and that he will ensure that the project would be started

within 15­30 days;

(c) That the cost of the flat will not be escalated and that the

promoter is agreeable to honour the BBA signed by the

previous management;

(d)That SBI Cap Ventures Ltd. has already shown interest for

further loan of Rs.100 crore;

(e) That the promoter has given his consent to make a team

of 5 persons, 2 from home­buyer’s side and 2 from the

management side and that the entire process will be

monitored by the IRP.

22. Taking into consideration the salient features of the

undertaking given on affidavit by the Promoter, Shri Kashi Nath

Shukla and the fact that there are only seven out of the 452

home­buyers, who opposed the Settlement Plan, we find that it

will rather be in the interest of the home­buyers that the

appellant/promoter is permitted to complete the project as

18
undertaken by him. It is pertinent to note that he has agreed

that the cost of the flat will not be escalated. He has also given

the time line within which the project would be completed. Not

only this, but he has also undertaken to refund the amount

paid by the seven objectors, if they so desire. He has further

agreed that there shall be a team of 5 persons, 2 from the

home­buyer’s side and 2 from the management side and that

the entire process shall be monitored by the IRP.

23. We find that there is every possibility that if the CIRP is

permitted, the cost that the home­buyers will have to pay,

would be much higher, inasmuch as the offer made by the

resolution applicants could be after taking into consideration

the price of escalation, etc. As against this, the Promoter has

filed a specific undertaking specifying therein that the cost of

the flat would not be escalated and that he would honour the

BBA signed by the previous management.

24. In that view of the matter, we are inclined to allow the

present appeal. Accordingly, we pass the following order:

19
A. The appeal is allowed. The impugned order dated 22 nd

November, 2021 passed by the National Company Law

Appellate Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi in I.A.

No.1115 of 2020 in Company Appeal (AT) (Insolvency) No.

1507 of 2019 is quashed and set aside;

B. The affidavit dated 27th December, 2021 filed by Shri

Kashi Nath Shukla, the promoter of the respondent No.1 –

Corporate Debtor is taken on record and treated to be an

undertaking given to this Court;

C. The appellant/promoter is permitted to complete the

project as per the deliberations that took place in the

Minutes of the Meeting dated 23 rd October, 2021 and in

accordance with the affidavit­cum­undertaking dated 27 th

December, 2021 of the Promoter, Shri Kashi Nath Shukla;

D. The modification application being I.A. No.1115 of 2020 in

Company Appeal (AT) (Insolvency) No. 1507 of 2019 before

the NCLAT accordingly stands allowed.

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E. From the date of this order, the IRP shall submit quarterly

reports to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal,

Principal Bench, New Delhi with regard to the progress of

the housing project;

F. The matter be listed before the National Company Law

Appellate Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi for such

first Status Report on 22nd August, 2022.

25. Application for impleadment is allowed. Application for

clarification/directions filed on behalf of the IRP does not

survive and is accordingly dismissed. Application for vacation

of stay/modification of order dated 4 th January, 2022 is

rejected. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.

There shall be no order as to costs.

…..……………………..J.

[L. NAGESWARA RAO]

………………………….J.

[B.R. GAVAI]
NEW DELHI;

APRIL 27, 2022.

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