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A writ petition has been filed at the Madras High Court praying for the establishment of a Regional Bench of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) at Chennai, in view of the pathetic situation being faced by litigants in accessing the NCLAT Bench at New Delhi.
Filed by a Chartered Accountant, the petition points out that there is only one NCLAT Bench to deal with crores of appeals from NCLT orders across the country. As per Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, NCLT orders can only be challenged at the NCLAT. Further, Section 63 bars civil courts, including writ courts, from entertaining NCLT appeals.
In the meanwhile, NCLT Benches are already burdened, with thousands of orders being passed everyday. In this backdrop, the petitioner contends that the NCLAT at Delhi alone is not equipped to fully hear and dispose of the mounting case load. As noted in the petition,
“I most respectfully submit that, the principal bench at Delhi alone handles the entire traffic and volume of appeals from all over India, in a day sitting from 10.30 to 1.30 pm hearing a maximum of 30 cases against almost 100 Crores in the list which means an average of less than six minutes per appeal is spent in hearing.
Hence, it is impossible to get a Fair Hearing, after incurring lakhs of Rupees and there is a constant fear of imposition of huge penalties and adverse comments, if the matter is pleaded vigorously. Hence, the present process appears to be a live example of Justice Hurried is Justice Buried.“
These issues only compound the existing difficulties being faced by ordinary litigants such as home buyers, small and medium enterprises, operational creditors, and other stakeholders in navigating the complex procedures that have become characteristic of the NCLAT.
On the other hand, most other specialised quasi-judicial authorities are noted to have appellate tribunals located in the concerned states. Therefore, a query has been raised to why such an appellate bench cannot be set up for the NCLTs as well.
“I most respectfully submit that all most all the tribunals constituted under the Act for specialized adjudication do have the Appellate Tribunals located in the same Place/State, the instances are DRAT, ITAT, IPAAT and GSTAT etc and only for NCLT which is meant for helping in recovering Lakhs of Crores of Public Money and improve the well being of our Nation has been functioning only with one Principal Bench at New Delhi for the past two years needs the immediate Consideration of this Hon`ble High Court.“
Repeated representations made in this regard to the government failed to yield any satisfactory response.
Therefore, the petitioner has now approached the High Court, praying that a writ of mandamus be issued to the Central government to set up an NCLAT Bench at Chennai. Till such a Bench is set up, the petition prays for a Circuit Bench of the High Court to hear such matters every month at Chennai.