The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on Thursday refused any interim relief to McDonald’s estranged partner Vikram Bakshi on his plea against termination of franchise licence agreement by the US-based fast food chain major. This means the fate of 169 McDonald’s stores in north and east India hangs by a thread as CPRL’s licence to operate the outlets lapsed on September 5.
An NCLAT bench headed by Justice S J Mukhopadhaya has issued a direction to list on September 21 Bakshi’s licence termination petition along with the original one filed by McDonald’s. CPRL is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) between McDonald’s and Bakshi. During the proceedings, senior lawyer Parag Tripathi representing Bakshi requested the tribunal to direct that no coercive step should be taken against his client.
However, the NCLAT said it is not going into this issue at this stage. “The interim application is more than the company petition in relief. You (Bakshi) are asking for the final relief in the interim relief application,” Justice Mukhopadhaya observed. He added: “During pendency of the case, we would not come in the way of the tribunal to decide the contempt petition.”
The National Company Law Tribunal has issued show-cause notice to McDonald’s Corporation and its Indian arm over the contempt plea filed by Bakshi. Bakshi had alleged that by terminating the licence, the US-based food giant has violated the NCLT order dated July 13 which reinstated him as the Managing Director of CPRL and refrained McDonald’s Corporation from interfering in the functioning of CPRL.
McDonald’s, through its counsel Rajiv Nayyar, questioned the maintainability of Bakshi’s petition. On September 21, the NCLAT will hear McDonald’s plea against the order of the NCLT reinstating Bakshi as the Managing Director of CPRL.
Bakshi was ousted from the post at McDonald’s franchisee in August 2013, following which he approached the NCLT in September the same year. He has been at loggerheads with McDonald’s over management of CPRL. He was reinstated as the MD of CPRL by NCLT on July 14 following which McDonald’s moved the tribunal.
McDonald’s on August 21 also terminated franchisee agreement for the outlets in question operated by CPRL. As part of the termination, CPRL cannot use McDonald’s name, system, trademark, designs and its associated intellectual property, among others, from September 5.