Svg Fashions Pvt. Ltd (Earlier … vs Ritu Murli Manohar Goyal on 29 March, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Svg Fashions Pvt. Ltd (Earlier … vs Ritu Murli Manohar Goyal on 29 March, 2022

Author: V. Ramasubramanian

Bench: Hemant Gupta, V. Ramasubramanian

                                                             NON­REPORTABLE


                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                   CIVIL APPEAL NO.4228 OF 2020



          SVG FASHIONS PVT. LTD. (EARLIER KNOWN AS
          SVG FASHIONS LTD.                                         …APPELLANT(S)

                                               VERSUS

          RITU MURLI MANOHAR GOYAL & ANR.                           …RESPONDENT(S)



                                            JUDGMENT

V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN, J.

1. Aggrieved by the order of the National Company Law Appellate

Tribunal (for short “NCLAT”), reversing the order of ‘Admission’ passed

by the National Company Law Tribunal (for short “NCLT”) and holding

that their application under Section 9 of the Insolvency and
Signature Not Verified

Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (for short “the Code”) was barred by
Digitally signed by
SWETA BALODI
Date: 2022.03.29
16:27:44 IST
Reason:

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limitation, the operational creditor has come up with the present

appeal.

2. We have heard the learned counsel for the appellant­operational

creditor; the learned counsel for the first respondent­shareholder and

Director of the corporate­debtor and the learned counsel for the

second respondent­Interim Resolution Professional.

3. The appellant herein filed an application under Section 9 of the

Code on 20.04.2018 against M/S Arpita Filaments Private Limited,

contending inter alia: that the corporate­debtor started having

business dealings with them from 2013; that they sold and delivered

various fabrics to the corporate­debtor; that the corporate­debtor was

irregular in making payments as per the bills; and that the demand

notice issued by them under Section 8 of the Code read with Rule 5

did not invoke any response.

4. Before NCLT, the corporate­debtor raised four major objections,

one of which was that the claim was barred by limitation. But NCLT

found on the basis of a letter dated 28.09.2015 produced by the

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operational creditor that six cheques had been issued in favour of the

operational creditor. These cheques returned dishonoured when

presented for payment. The stand taken by the corporate­debtor was

that those six cheques were lost by the corporate­debtor in March

2017 and that they had already issued “stop payment instructions” to

the bank on 4.03.2017. The corporate­debtor also claimed that the

letter dated 28.09.2015 relied upon by the operational creditor was

issued by Shree Adeshwar Textiles and that therefore, the operational

creditor cannot rely upon the same to save limitation.

5. However, the NCLT, by an order dated 26.09.2019 overruled the

objections and held that there was an acknowledgment of liability on

the part of the corporate­debtor and that therefore, the application

was within the period of limitation. Consequently, the NCLT ordered

the admission of the application under Section 9 of the Code and also

declared moratorium in terms of Section 14.

6. On an appeal filed by the appellant, the NCLAT held that the

debt arose during the period from 11.08.2013 to 02.09.2013 and that

the six cheques purportedly issued towards part payment of the

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liability having been issued on 5.12.2017, will not save limitation. The

NCLAT further held that even if the date of default is taken to be

7.10.2013 as pleaded by the operational creditor, the acknowledgment

of liability in terms of Section 18 of the Limitation Act ought to have

happened on or before 07.10.2016. But the cheques were dated

December 2017 and hence NCLAT reversed the decision of NCLT and

dismissed the application of the operational creditor.

7. But we find from the order of NCLAT that there was no

discussion at all about the letter dated 28.09.2015. According to the

operational creditor, the six cheques in question were handed over

along with the letter dated 28.09.2015. The cheque numbers and the

bank on which the cheques were drawn, given in the letter dated

28.09.2015 tallied with the particulars of those six cheques allegedly

lost by the corporate debtor in March 2017. Though the first

respondent herein clamed in his affidavit in reply that the corporate­

debtor had issued stop payment instructions, he conceded that the

acknowledgment issued by the banker contained the date 01.01.2018.

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The following extract from the affidavit in reply/objections of the

Director of the corporate­debtor makes an interesting reading:

“…Hereto annexed and marked collectively as Annexure­C
are copies of the intimation issued by the banker of the
Corporate Debtor duly recording the instruction of stop
payment qua the cheques in question taking record that
the cheques had been lost. It is submitted that the banker
of the Corporate Debtor has issued such notices
acknowledging stop payment instruction on account of loss
of the cheques on 04/03/2017, however inadvertently due
to the error in the computers of the banker, the date on the
top right shows as 01/01/2018. the Corporate Debtor in
the process of obtaining appropriate letter from the banker
of the Corporate Debtor to the effect that the error in the
date has occurred due to some problem in the computers of
the banker, and the Corporate Debtor craves leave to
produce copy of the same as and when referred to and
relied upon and available with the Corporate Debtor from
the banker.”

8. Unfortunately NCLAT completely overlooked the pleadings

revolving around the letter dated 28.09.2015 and the six cheques.

The failure of the NCLAT as the first appellate authority to look into a

very vital aspect such as this, vitiates its order, especially when NCLT

has recorded a specific finding of fact on this.

9. It is needless to point out that the law relating to the applicability

of Section 18 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is fairly well settled. In

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Jignesh Shah and Another vs. Union of India and Another1
, this

Court pointed out that when time begins to run, it can only be

extended in the manner provided in the Limitation Act. For holding so

this Court made a reference to Section 18 of the Limitation Act.

Though in Babu Lal Vardharji Gurjar vs. Veer Gurjar Aluminium

Industries Private Limited and Another2, a two member Bench of

this Court held that the reference in Jignesh Shah (supra) to Section

18 of the Limitation Act was only illustrative and that the ratio in B.K.

Educational Services Private Limited vs. Parag Gupta and

Associates3 did not stand altered by Jignesh Shah, no discordant

note was struck. But the cloud of doubt created by Babu Lal (supra)

was cleared subsequently in Laxmi Pat Surana vs. Union Bank of

India And Another4. In Asset Reconstruction Company (India)

Limited vs. Bishal Jaiswal and Another5, this Court, while applying

Section 18 of the Limitation Act, even went to the extent of holding

that an entry in the balance sheet of the company could also be
1 (2019) 10 SCC 750
2 (2020) 15 SCC 1
3 (2019) 11 SCC 633
4 (2021) 8 SCC 481
5 (2021) 6 SCC 366

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treated as an acknowledgment in writing, subject however to any

caveat found in the accompanying reports.

10. The law as it has developed on the applicability of Section 18 of

the Limitation Act and the circumstances in which it would apply,

have also not been examined by NCLAT. Therefore, the order of NCLAT

is liable to be set aside and the matter liable to be remanded back for

a fresh consideration. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed, the

impugned order of NCLAT is set aside and the matter remanded back

to NCLAT for a fresh consideration in the light of the observations and

the principles of law indicated above. There will be no order as to

costs.

…………………………….J.

(Hemant Gupta)

…………………………….J.

(V. Ramasubramanian)

New Delhi
March 29, 2022.

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