For Justice Ashok Iqbal Singh Cheema, the last 10 days of his tenure as the acting chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal have been busier than he would have imagined.
Apart from approaching the Supreme Court with a plea challenging the Central government’s move to cut short his tenure by 10 days, Justice Cheema has also delivered as many as 17 judgments between September 10 and September 20, when he retired.
Justice Cheema had, in his plea said that he should be allowed to complete his term as he had a lot of judgments to deliver.
The issues decided in these judgments, most of them delivered on Monday, his last day in office, range from as protecting the assets of the corporate debtor by asking a former chief executive officer to return the funds to the resolution professional, to holding that if a financial creditor is a related party to the corporate debtor, it can not be made a part of the committee of creditors.
In one of his final judgments, Justice Cheema has also held that the debt of a financial creditor would not be barred by limitation, and that the corporate debtor who fails to pay such debts can be taken to the National Company Law Tribunal.
During his tenure as the acting NCLAT Chairperson, Justice Cheema also headed the bench which clarified that procedures under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code would hold precedence over other laws, especially when the assets under consideration would have a material impact if allowed to be held by any other agency.
Hearing the insolvency proceedings of Sterling SEZ Infrastructure and Sterling Justice Cheema led bench ordered that Enforcement Directorate must vacate its claim on any corporate assets that it has attached once a corporate insolvency process is initiated against a company International Enterprises.
Earlier this month on September 10, Justice Cheema had moved the Supreme Court challenging the central government’s move to end his term as the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)’s acting chairperson only 10 days before it was to officially end of September 20.
The central government, after a few stern words and a nudge from the Supreme Court, relented, and said that Justice Cheema would complete his tenure as scheduled, while Justice M Venugopal, the newly appointed acting chairperson of the appellate tribunal would be asked to go on leave till September 20.
As he retires, Justice Venugopal, the third acting chairperson of NCLAT, will take over on September 21 and is most likely to function out of the Chennai bench of the appellate tribunal.
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