HC directs SpiceJet to pay Rs 50 crore to former promoter Kalanithi Maran, KAL Airways in six weeks

The Delhi High Court on Monday directed SpiceJet Ltd to pay Rs 50 crore to former promoter Kalanithi Maran and KAL Airways in six weeks in an arbitral award that the airline lost in 2018.
However, the payment shall be made subject to the outcome of the Spicejet’s appeal challenging the interest amount awarded by the arbitral tribunal, a bench led by Justice Jasmeet Singh said, while posting the matter for further hearing on May 14.
A single judge of the HC had on July 31 refused to interfere with the 2018 arbitral tribunal award that asked SpiceJet to refund Rs 579 crore with interest accrued to Maran in a seven-year-old share transfer dispute.
While seeking execution of the arbitration award, senior counsel Maninder Singh, appearing for Maran and Kal Airways, on Monday told the judge that SpiceJet had last year assured the court that a balance of Rs 194 crore would be paid, but Maran is yet to receive it and the amount has swelled up to Rs 250 crore as of today. Singh also sought attachment of Rs 194 crore lying in the SpiceJet’s YES Bank account.

However, the HC refused to pass any attachment order, saying “today, they (SpiceJet) are a running company, this will sink them. I know that money needs to be paid, I am giving them a breathing space. I can order payment of Rs 194 crore, but it will sink them.”

SpiceJet’s appeal against the interest payable to Maran is pending before another bench of the high court.While rejecting the cross-petitions by Maran and SpiceJet challenging the arbitral tribunal’s 2018 award, the HC had on July 31 held that the parties have “failed to substantiate the grounds for setting aside the impugned Arbitral Award of July 20, 2018” and even the court is “barred from entering into the merits of an Award.”Without going into the merits of the award under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, the HC also rejected SpiceJet’s objections to the levy of interest @12% per annum on the amount to be refunded towards warrants and 18% per annum in case of non-payment within the stipulated time period.

The case relates to a share transfer dispute between SpiceJet’s chairman and managing director Ajay Singh and Maran and his KAL Airways. In February 2015, Maran and KAL Airways transferred their entire 58.46% stake in the airline to Singh. In 2017, Maran and KAL Airways moved HC demanding that 180 million warrants redeemable as equity shares be transferred to them. The court on July 29, 2016, asked both parties to settle the share transfer dispute under arbitration.

On July 20, 2018, the arbitral tribunal rejected Maran’s claim of damages of Rs 1,323 crore for not issuing warrants to him and KAL Airways but awarded him a refund of Rs 579 crore plus interest.

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