At, Supreme Court of India
By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. R.C. LAHOTI
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE G.P. MATHUR & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE P.K. BALASUBRAMANYAN
For the Petitioners: ------ For the Respondents: ------
1. Civil Appeals Nos. 6221-22 of 2004 arising out of SLPs (C) Nos. 15733-34 of 2004
2. Respondents 1 and 2, who are the contesting respondents and who filed the writ petition in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar and obtained an interim order which is the subject matter of these appeals, have been served dasti. An affidavit of dasti service is filed which shows that service was effected on 6-8-2004 on Mr. M.I. Qadri, the learned counsel appearing for the two writ petitioners in the High Court. None appears for the contesting respondents. The matter is directed to proceed ex parte against them.
3. Export Import Bank of India and State Bank of India, Respondents 4 and 5 herein, are represented by the respective learned counsel appearing for them in other matters before us.
4. So far as Continental Construction Ltd. is concerned, there is a dispute as to who represents the company. It seems that there are two groups known as "Chander Verma Group" and "Basi Group" which are fighting between themselves. In any case, the learned counsel appearing for both the groups are present before us and they have also been heard.
5. On 10-2-2003 while hearing SLP (C) No. 1995 of 2003 and TPs (C) Nos. 84-86 of 2003, this Court had passed an interim order to the following effect:
"In the meantime, it is directed that no court other than the High Court of Delhi shall entertain any suit or proceedings wherein the outcome of the 39th AGM dated 19-9-2002 of the 1st petitioner Company is called in question."
6. In spite of the abovesaid order, proceedings by way of writ petition were initiated in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar. On the own showing of those two writ petitioners, they hold 1250 shares each i.e. in all 2500 shares only.
7. The Delhi High Court is already seized of hearing in Suits Nos. 89 of 2003 and 706 of 2003 which relate to this very Company. Two appeals against interlocutory orders are also pending before the Delhi High Court which are FAOs Nos. 221-22 of 2003. All the four matters are coming up for hearing before the Delhi High Court on 27-9-2004.
8. In the interest of justice, it will be proper if all the matters relating to Continental Construction Ltd. are directed to be heard either by the Delhi High Court or by the Company Law Board, Principal Bench, Delhi depending on the nature of dispute sought to be raised.
9. Accordingly, we direct the order dated 26-2-2004 passed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar in OWP No. 64 of 2004 to be vacated and further hearing in the writ petition to remain stayed awaiting decision by the Delhi High Court or the Company Law Board, Principal Bench, Delhi, as the case may be, which would govern the issue arising for decision in the writ petition before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar.
10. All the learned counsel for the parties agree that the matters pending before the Delhi High Court may be taken up for hearing on 27-9-2004 itself. All the learned counsel for the parties further agree to appear before the Delhi High Court on that day and to argue the matters without making a prayer for adjournment. We request the learned Single Judge before whom the matters are to come up to give priority to hearing of these matters looking at the nature of controversy which obviously calls for an expeditious hearing and decision.
11. The appeals stand disposed of.
12. We make it clear that the fact that though we have directed the interim order passed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar to be vacated, the same is not to be construed as an expression of any opinion on the merits of the case of any of the parties.
13. So also, the above order shall not come in the way of hearing by the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Mumbai of any appeal which lies within its exclusive jurisdiction to hear.
14. In future, if any dispute arises touching the management of Continental Construction Ltd., then that shall be raised by initiating appropriate proceedings either before the Delhi High Court or before the Company Law Board, Principal Bench, Delhi, as the case may be, depending upon the nature of the dispute sought to be raised and no other court or tribunal shall entertain such dispute for decision.
15. SLPs (C) Nos. 15735-36 of 2004
In view of the above order, nothing survives for adjudication in these special leave petitions. They be treated as disposed of.
16. IAs Nos. 7-9 in TPs (C) Nos. 84-86 of 2003
17. TP(C)No.373 of 2004
In view of the above order, the learned counsel for the petitioner in this transfer petition seeks to withdraw it. The transfer petition is dismissed as withdrawn at this stage without expressing any opinion on merits.
18. SLPs (C) Nos. 17970-72 of 2004
We have heard the learned counsel for the petitioners at length. During the course of hearing, it was submitted by the learned counsel for the petitioners that State Bank of India has arrived at a settlement on 16-9-2004 and this Court may direct State Bank of India who has already made appearance through counsel to make a statement in that regard and then consider the correctness or propriety of the order dated 23-8-2004 passed by the High Court of Delhi refusing to interfere with the condition imposed by DRAT requiring Continental Construction Ltd. to deposit Rs 5 crores for staying the order of appointment of Receiver.
19. We do not think that the scope of controversy which arises for decision in these petitions can be enlarged. The limited issue arising for consideration before us is whether to interfere or not to interfere with the condition imposed by DRAT which has been refused to be interfered with by the Delhi High Court.
20. We dispose of these special leave petitions in terms of the following directions:
(1) The condition imposed by DRAT requiring the
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deposit of Rs 5 crores shall remain stayed for a period of one month. (2) State Bank of India shall, within two weeks from today, make a statement before DRAT as to whether on 16-9-2004 any settlement has been arrived at, and, if so, what are the details thereof. (3) It will be open to any of the parties to seek a modification in the interim order passed earlier by DRAT in the light of subsequent events, if any. 21. By way of abundant caution, we make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of any of the issues arising for decision between any of the contesting parties which are open for hearing and decision before DRAT.