Delhi HC rules in favour of Sun TV chief Maran

MUMBAI: In a civil suit filed by south Indian media baron and Sun Group chief Kalanithi Maran and his airline firm Kal Airways, the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea of SpiceJet against a single-judge order that directed it to deposit Rs 579 crore in relation to a share transfer conflict. Sources told Financial Express that SpiceJet will move the Supreme Court against the HC order.

The petitioner had sought issuance of stock warrants in SpiceJet to them as per a sale purchase agreement (SPA) of 2015 which had led to the transfer of ownership of the budget carrier to SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh. The single bench's order had been pronounced last year on the ivil suit filed by Maran and Kal Airways, the erstwhile owner of SpiceJet, PTI reported.

The high court on Monday asked SpiceJet to deposit in court a part of the amount in the form of bank guarantee by July-end, and the remainder to be paid in cash by August end.

Maran and Kal had charged that despite giving Rs 579 crore to SpiceJet, the carrier had failed to issue them the warrants or allot tranche one and two of Convertible Redeemable Preference Shares and that the funds were not utilised for paying statutory dues owing to which they were also facing prosecution.

Singh had co-founded SpiceJet in 2005, but sold his majority stake to Maran for Rs 750 crore in 2010. But, when the carrier ran into trouble, Singh came on board by acquiring 58 per cent stake from Marans in January 2015.

A division bench headed by justice S Ravindra Bhat stated: “Although we do not find merit in the appeal and have dismissed it, we have passed an order modifying the impugned order," adding “there is nothing worthwhile” in the airline’s plea to show its finances were precarious or that its cash position was so stretched that it cannot comply with a single-judge order to deposit the amount. “There is neither reference to any figure or amount, nor reliance on any balance sheet, nor even the income and expenditure statement of the company, to say that compliance with the impugned order would irreparably injure it."

"The court notices that the nearly 18 month pendency of this appeal, and the non-compliance with the impugned order (of single judge), has aggrandised the appellant (SpiceJet), which was to have the benefit of the amounts. “If there were any difficulties, this interregnum period would have helped it considerably tide over its affairs and certainly afforded time to organise it better and in a more orderly fashion to comply with the order,” the bench said while dismissing the appeals.

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