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Delhi HC grants Centre time to file reply on PIL challenging appointment of NCLAT chairperson

New Delhi , June 30: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted more time to the Central government to file its reply on a PIL challenging the appointment of Justice (Retd) Bansi Lal Bhat as the officiating chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The counsel for the Centre, appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, and Ministry of Finance sought more time to file their reply on the matter, after which the matter was listed for further hearing on July 21.

A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan had earlier issued notice to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Law and Justice on the plea seeking to quash the appointment notification dated March 12.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, through the notification, had appointed Justice (Retd) Bansi Lal Bhat as officiating Chairperson of the NCLAT.

The plea, filed by lawyer Fozia Rahman through senior advocate Rajeev K Virmani and advocate M Qayam-Ud-Din, said that the notification appointing Justice (Retd) Bansi Lal Bhat as officiating Chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal is contrary to and in violation of the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 as well as the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities Rules, 2020.

The plea submitted that the appointment is not in compliance of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020 and Section 415 of Companies Act, 2013.

The petitioner has made a representation dated June 8, 2020, to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs but no response has been received and it is apprehended that no response will be given, and in the meantime, the acting/officiating chairperson will continue to carry out functions of the office, which may later be under a cloud and of questionable legality if his appointment is ultimately set aside, the plea stated.

The plea said that under the constitutional framework, allowing any member to be appointed as officiating chairperson dehors 'seniority' by the executive, is palpably unconstitutional and would make them amenable to the whims of the executive, hampering discharge of judicial functions.

It said that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs failed to take into account that the senior-most member of NCLAT is Balvinder Singh, Member (Technical) appointed on July 1, 2016 and that Member (Judicial) Justice AIS Cheema appointed on September 11, 2017, are also senior to Member (Judicial) Justice Bansi Lal Bhat appointed on October 17, 2017.

(ANI)

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Delhi HC grants Centre time to file reply on PIL challenging appointment of NCLAT chairperson

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