This would mark a policy shift as CLB, for the last many years, has been headed by bureaucrats, even as the global practice is to equip such bodies with persons with sufficient judicial experience. Deshmukh will replace S Balasubramanian, who retired on November 2 this year after serving for 18 years in the quasi judicial body. He would assume his charge from December first week.
The former chairman, Balasubramanian, had joined the CLB in 1991 as a member and later became the officiating chairman of CLB in June 2003, filling the post that had been lying vacant for nine months after the retirement of AK Banerjee in September 2002. He was later elevated as chairman of the body in 2004.
The Law Board is an independent quasi-judicial body constituted under Section 10E of the Companies Act, 1956, in May 31, 1991. At present, CLB regulations do not specify that the chairman of the Board needs to be a retired High Court Judge or from the legal fraternity. The former chairman S Balasubramanian has been a bureaucrat from the Indian Postal Services. While the CLB was witness to high-profile corporate battles, the need for judicial experience at the helm of the board was often felt.
Significantly, only a High Court judge can be the president of the proposed National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which could replace the Company Law Board, pending resolution of litigation in the Supreme Court. The NCLT law makes it mandatory that the central government shall appoint a person who has been, or is qualified to be, a judge of a High Court as the president of the Tribunal.
Deshmukh, 62, is a post-graduate in law from the
Jiwaji University, Gwalior. He joined the MP Judicial Services in 1970 and was posted as a Civil Judge Class II at Jagdalpur, Balaghat, Rajnandgaon, Jabalpur and Gwalior in different times. He was also appointed as a Judge of the Juvenile Court of Gwalior and the Additional District Judge at Bilaspur and Durg. For members of the tribunal, a person shall not be qualified for appointment as a judicial member unless he has held a judicial office for at least 15 years or has been an advocate of a high court for atleast 10 years or has been a senior member with the Central Company Law Service. Corporate lawyer, Sourabh Kalia, partner, UKCA Law Chamber, said, The National Company Law Tribunal which will replace the CLB and the Board for Industrial Finance & Reconstruction will have a president who would be a former high court Judge thereby making it easier to give jurisdiction on cases that would be taken up by the NCLT.