Two jailed for filing frivolous litigations against Azim Premji

The High Court of Karnataka has convicted two representatives of a Chennai-based “non-existent” company in a contempt of court case, and sentenced them to simple imprisonment for two months for repeatedly filing frivolous litigations against Wipro Group of companies founder Azim H. Premji and his companies by suppressing facts from the court.

The High Court directed its Registrar (Judicial) to prepare warrant of commitment and detention of convicts — R. Subramanian and P. Sadanand of Chennai-based India Awake for Transparency (IAT) Pvt. Ltd. — for them to undergo the punishment imposed.

Also, the High Court restrained the duo from initiating any legal proceedings against Mr. Premji and his group of companies before any court, tribunal, authority or forum in future.

A Division Bench comprising Justice B. Veerappa and Justice K.S. Hemalekha passed the order on January 14 while allowing a criminal contempt of court petition filed by Hasham Investment and Trading Company (HI&TC) Pvt. Ltd., the Wipro Limited, and Mr. Premji.

“Subramanian, being the authorised signatory and an advocate of a non-existent company (IAT), has played dual role by filing a number of frivolous writ petitions, writ appeals, criminal petitions, and original side appeals against Mr. Premji and others by suppressing the facts amounting to abuse of process of law and continued the proceedings in spite of dismissal of all the petitions filed with same cause of action,” the Bench said.

Pointing out that Subramanian, despite warnings, penalty and prohibition imposed on them by the High Court earlier, had filed several cases and continued the proceedings, the Bench said that “his conduct is nothing but daring ride on the court and mockery of the judicial process that is not only affecting the interest of public at large but also interfering with the administration of justice by misusing the forum of various courts, wasting precious public judicial time.”

The Bench said that Subramanian misrepresented before the court stating that IAT is a ‘not-for-profit’ company licensed under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. And he had continued the litigations by falsely projecting the company as a ‘not-for-profit company’ without inserting the words ‘Private Limited’ as required under the law after the RoC, acting under Section 8(6) of the Companies Act, revoked the licence granted earlier to IAT to drop the words Private Limited.

“It is undisputed fact that the accused persons filed repeated petitions appeals, etc., in the name of non-existing company, IAT, without using the words Private Limited. It is nothing but a brazen suppression of identity and impersonation done only with a view to mislead this court,” the Bench observed.

The Bench also noted that 42 distinct proceedings were initiated by IAT through Subramanian and Sadanand after Mr. Premji’s HI&TC initiated criminal proceedings against Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd., of which Subramanian is the Managing Director, for dishonour of cheques in 2009. A metropolitan magistrate court in Bengaluru in its December 31, 2021 judgment had convicted and sentenced Subramanian and another person to two years’ imprisonment in the cheque dishonour case asking them to pay ₹62.63 crore to HI&TC, the Bench said.

“All these indisputable facts on record make it abundantly clear that Subramanian is the alter ego of IAT, which is only a corporate facade used by him and that all the legal proceedings filed in the name of IAT are at his behest and instance, and are financed and controlled by him as he is the ‘directing mind’ of IAT, which is a mere shell company having no income and negligible expenditure,” the Bench observed while pointing out that acts of continuous and long drawn litigation by the duo squarely covered under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act.

The Bench also found that “blind and mindless participation” of Sadanand in the frivolous litigations initiated by Subramanian amounts to abuse of process of the court.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 7:05:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/two-jailed-for-filing-frivolous-litigations-against-azim-premji/article38274951.ece