The Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has dismissed a plea for payment of interest under section 9 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016 on grounds of a pre-existing dispute regarding the same between the parties.
An application was filed by Steel India (operational creditor) against Theme Developers Pvt. Ltd. (corporate debtor) under section 9 of IBC seeking payment of Rs. 22,64,054 which was alleged by the creditor to have been defaulted by the corporate debtor over the goods supplied by the creditor to the corporate debtor. The amount mentioned above included an interest of 2% on the principal amount. Subsequently, the creditor issued a Demand Notice under section 8 of IBC to the corporate debtor for the payment of the mentioned amount. The operational creditor contended that the corporate debtor did not pay any heed to the Demand Notice.
The corporate debtor said that he had ordered steel bars form the creditor amounting to Rs.48,42,784 and the amount was paid way before the petition was filed by the creditor. He also showed that in the demand notice, the creditor claimed Rs. 36,00,006 out of which the interest amount was Rs. 22,64,054 and the principal amount was Rs. 13,35,952.
The corporate debtor argued that there was no agreement between the two parties for payment of interest and a dispute had been raised between them for the same prior to the filing of the petition. Since under section, the existence of a prior dispute is a ground for rejection of the plea, he pleaded that the petition be dismissed.
However, the operational creditor contended that the balance sheet of 2015-16 of the debtor showed ‘interest of delayed payment’ as a part of audited financial statements and he had also deducted TDS on the interest which served as proof against the debtor.
The NCLT after observing everything said that the corporate debtor had already made the required payment and the same was also accepted by the operational creditor. It also said that the invoices issued by the creditor did not prove any agreement for payment of interest between the two. As far as the balance sheet of the debtor is concerned, the NCLT said that the amount mentioned there was Rs. 2,90,459 which could not be related to the amount claimed by the creditor.
Hence the NCLT has dismissed the petition on the grounds of presence of prior dispute relating to the payment of the amount.