Whether Interest Free Loan To Corporate Debtor Is Not Financial Debt (SC) [FCS Deepak P. Singh]



Orator Marketing Pvt. Ltd (Appellant) vs. Samtex Desinz Pvt. Ltd (Respondent)Supreme Court of India Civil Appeal No. 2231 of 2021Dated: 26/07/2021
 

THE APEX COURT HELD that lender giving interest free loan to Corporate Debtor in case of non -payment of the same is a Financial Creditor and eligible to apply for initiation of insolvency process under IBC,2016.

BRIEF FACTS:  

  1. The Original Lender, advanced a term loan of Rs.1.60 crores to the Corporate Debtor for a period of two years, to enable the Corporate Debtor to meet its working capital requirement.
  1. The Original Lender has assigned the outstanding loan to the Appellant.
  1. According to the Appellant the loan was due to be repaid by the Corporate Debtor in full within 01.02.2020.
  1. The Appellant claims that the Corporate Debtor made some payments, but Rs.1.56 crores still remain outstanding.
  1. The Appellant filed a Petition under Section 7 of the IBC in the NCLT for initiation of the Corporate Resolution Process.
  1. NCLT dismissed the petition with the finding that the Appellant is not a financial creditor of the Respondent.
  1. On appeal, NCLAT also concurred with the judgement of the NCLT.
  1. Hence the present appeal before the Supreme Court.
  1. The short question involved in this Appeal is, whether a person who gives a term loan to a Corporate Person, free of interest, on account of its working capital requirements is not a Financial Creditor, and therefore, incompetent to initiate the Corporate Resolution Process under Section 7 of the IBC.
DECISION OF THE APEX COURT:  

  1. The judgment and order of the NCLAT, affirming the judgment and order of the Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) and dismissing the appeal is patently flawed. Both the NCLAT and NCLT have misconstrued the definition of ‘financial debt’ in Section 5(8) of the IBC, by reading the same in isolation and out of context.
  1. When a question arises as to the meaning of a certain provision in a statute, the provision has to be read in its context. The statute has to be read as a whole. The previous state of the law, the general scope and ambit of the statute and the mischief that it was intended to remedy are relevant factors.
  1. The definition of ‘financial debt’ in Section 5(8) of the IBC has been quoted above. Section 5(8) defines ‘financial debt’ to mean “a debt along with interest if any which is disbursed against the consideration of the time value of money and includes money borrowed against the payment of interest, as per Section 5(8) (a) of the IBC.
  1. The definition of ‘financial debt’ in Section 5(8) includes the components of sub-clauses (a) to (i) of the said Section.
  1. The NCLT and NCLAT have overlooked the words “if any” which could not have been intended to be otiose. ‘Financial debt’ means outstanding principal due in respect of a loan and would also include interest thereon, if any interest were payable thereon. If there is no interest payable on the loan, only the outstanding principal would qualify as a financial debt.
  1. Both NCLAT and NCLT have failed to notice clause(f) of Section 5(8), in terms whereof ‘financial debt’ includes any amount raised under any other transaction, having the commercial effect of borrowing. Furthermore, sub-clauses (a) to (i) of Sub-section 8 of Section 5 of the IBC are apparently illustrative and not exhaustive.
  1. Legislature has the power to define a word in a statute. Such definition may either be restrictive or be extensive. Where the word is defined to include something, the definition is prima facie extensive. At the cost of repetition, it is reiterated that the trigger for initiation of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process by a Financial Creditor under Section 7 of the IBC is the occurrence of a default by the Corporate Debtor. ‘Default’ means non-payment of debt in whole or part when the debt has become due and payable, and debt means a liability or obligation in respect of a claim which is due from any person and includes financial debt and operational debt. The definition of ‘debt’ is also expansive and the same includes inter alia financial debt.
  1. The definition of ‘Financial Debt’ in Section 5(8) of IBC does not expressly exclude an interest free loan. ‘Financial Debt’ would have to be construed to include interest free loans advanced to finance the business operations of a corporate body.
  1. The appeal is, therefore, allowed.
  1. The judgment and order impugned is, accordingly, set aside.
  1. The order of the Adjudicating Authority, dismissing the petition of the Appellant under Section 7 of the IBC is also set aside. The petition under Section 7 stands revived and may be decided afresh, in accordance with law and in the light of the findings above.
CONCLUSION: 

From decision of the Apex Court it is clear that any lending whether it is bearing interest or not ( interest free) raised by Corporate Debtor for the purpose of its business is a Financial Debt and lender will be considered as “ Financial Creditor” and eligible to apply under provisions of Section 7 of IBC,2016.

AUTHOUR'S DISCLAIMER: 

The case law presented here is only for sharing information with readers. The views are personal. In case of necessity do consult with professionals.

Footnotes:

SECTION 5(8) “financial debt” means a debt alongwith interest, if any, which is disbursed against the consideration for the time value of money and includes—

(a) money borrowed against the payment of interest;

(b) any amount raised by acceptance under any acceptance credit facility or its de-materialised equivalent;

(c) any amount raised pursuant to any note purchase facility or the issue of bonds, notes, debentures, loan stock or any similar instrument;

(d) the amount of any liability in respect of any lease or hire purchase contract which is deemed as a finance or capital lease under the Indian Accounting Standards or such other accounting standards as may be prescribed;

(e) receivables sold or discounted other than any receivables sold on nonrecourse basis;

(f) any amount raised under any other transaction, including any forward sale or purchase agreement, having the commercial effect of a borrowing;

Explanation. -For the purposes of this sub-clause,-

(i) any amount raised from an allottee under a real estate project shall be deemed to be an amount having the commercial effect of a borrowing; and

(ii) the expressions, “allottee” and “real estate project” shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in clauses (d) and (zn) of section 2 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (16 of 2016);

(g) any derivative transaction entered into in connection with protection against or benefit from fluctuation in any rate or price and for calculating the value of any derivative transaction, only the market value of such transaction shall be taken into account;

(h) any counter-indemnity obligation in respect of a guarantee, indemnity, bond, documentary letter of credit or any other instrument issued by a bank or financial institution;

(i) the amount of any liability in respect of any of the guarantee or indemnity for any of the items referred to in sub-clauses (a) to (h) of this clause.

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