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Supreme Court: Limitation to file Appeal under Section 61 of IBC starts running from the date of pronouncement of Order

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A Full bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (SC), comprising of Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud, Mr. Justice Vikram Nath and Ms. Justice BV Nagarathna, held, in their judgment dated 22.10.2021 in V Nagarajan v. SKS Ispat and Power Ltd.& Ors., that the period of limitation for filing an appeal against an impugned order of NCLT, under Section 61 of IBC, will start running from the date of pronouncement of such order. The SC further held that as the appellant had not made any effort to secure a certified copy of the impugned order from the NCLT registry, but rather chose to rely on the date of the uploading of the impugned order on the NCLT website, the appeal filed before the NCLAT was clearly barred by limitation. The SC further observed that the answer to the two issues arising in the present case, viz. (i) when will the clock for calculating the limitation period run for proceedings under the IBC; and (ii) is the annexation of a certified copy mandatory for an appeal to the NCLAT against an order passed under the IBC, must be based on a harmonious interpretation of the applicable legal regime as IBC is a Code in itself and has overriding effect.

Sections 61(1) and (2) of the IBC consciously omit the requirement of limitation being computed from when the “order is made available to the aggrieved party”, in contrast to Section 421(3) of the Companies Act, 2013. Owing to the special nature of IBC, where timing is critical for the workability of the mechanism, health of the economy, recovery rate of lenders and valuation of the corporate debtor, the aggrieved party is expected to exercise due diligence and immediately apply for a certified copy upon pronouncement of the impugned order. It is not open to a person aggrieved by an order under the IBC to await the receipt of a free certified copy, under Section 420(3) of the Companies Act 2013 read with Rule 50 of the NCLT Rules, and prevent limitation from running. An appeal, if considered necessary and expedient by an aggrieved party, is expected to be filed forthwith without awaiting a free copy which may be received at an indefinite stage. The provision of Section 61(2) of the IBC is a consistent signal of the intention of the legislature to nudge the parties to be proactive and facilitate timely resolution.

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