The Company Law Tribunal has dismissed (pdf) an application by AskMe employees looking to intervene in a case filed by former AskMe MD Sanjiv Gupta against the company.
The employee group was invoking Order 1 Rule 10 of the CPC which states that a suit has been instituted in the name of the wrong person as plaintiff or it is doubtful that there is a right plaintiff. The court can substitute or add a plaintiff in order to determine the real matter in the dispute under this order.
The CLBT stated that it has repeatedly asked the employees’ counsel as to how employees would have the right to intervene in the case but has got no persuasive reply other than, ‘it is in the larger public interest and in the interest of the respondent company (Getit Infoservices).’
It further states that the employee counsel hasn’t provided any provisions of the Companies Act 2013, or a precedent which states that employees are ‘entitled to intervene in the proceedings under Section 241 and 242 of the Act.’ According to the CLBT, since the applicants lack locus standi, the application was dismissed. Note that in this application, Respondent 1 is Astro (which owns AskMe), whereas Respondent 2 is Sidharth Gupta.
The original case, which is due for a hearing on 17th of October, was filed by Sanjiv Gupta on 30th August, alleging that additional directors Sandeep Vats and Prakash Mishra’s appointments (on the Getit Infoservices board) on 16 June 2016 be deemed illegal and their interference in day to day functioning of the company be banned.
At the time, the court said that it was unable to accept Gupta’s plea “because the petitioner has only 0.06% shareholding, and the shareholders having 99% shareholding in the company cannot be allowed to overawe at the instance of the petitioner.” It also said that the board constitution should remain status quo and that no board meeting can be held without the permission of the court.
Following this, Gupta applied for permission from the CLBT to hold a board meeting on 30 September which was given the green signal. However, Astro’s spokesperson told MediaNama on 3rd October that the meeting could not take place since “many of the directors were unavailable to attend” and that a petition was being raised for a change of date for the same.