Five operational creditors — Om Transport, Amit Road Lines, Meel Transport, Mahavir Transport and Sri Choudhary Road Lines — that had dragged Binani Industries, the promoter company of Binani Cement, to the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in a bid to realise their dues through the resolution process, got a much-awaited hearing on Monday.
Five operational creditors — Om Transport, Amit Road Lines, Meel Transport, Mahavir Transport and Sri Choudhary Road Lines — that had dragged Binani Industries, the promoter company of Binani Cement, to the Kolkata bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in a bid to realise their dues through the resolution process, got a much-awaited hearing on Monday. The operational creditors had filed their application in September last year and appeared for their second hearing on Monday. Rohit Kumar Keshri, the counsel on behalf of the said creditors, said that none of the respondents appeared before the NCLT in the two consecutive hearings. “We hope the tribunal will appoint a resolution professional (RP) during the third hearing in June,” Keshri said, adding that the NCLT in the case of small operational creditors should appoint an RP on their behalf, even while financial creditors have appointed their own RP.
Arvind Kumar Purohit, a counsel for the transporters, told FE that while the outstanding freight payment was originally due from Dhaneswar Solutions, a Binani group company, Dhaneswar was merged with Binani Metals in 2013 without intimation to the operational creditors. Later in 2016 Binani Metals was in turn merged with Binani Industries without giving any notice to the transporters or operational creditors. While the entire contract for handling Binani Cement’s logistics was given to Binani Industries, the company had engaged 32 transport companies as sub-contractors to carry out the operations. The 32 transport companies said they had an outstanding freight payment of Rs 114 crore against which the company issued post-dated cheques to 27 companies. Five companies have not been paid any money so far and and several attempts at arriving at an agreements have failed repeatedly, Purohit said.
“The cheques dated June and August are likely to fail and we apprehend that all 32 creditors will have to appear before the NCLT to realise their dues,” Purohit said, adding that the transporters have also approached the Serious Fraud Investigation Office to look into the matter. Purohit on behalf of the transporters claimed to have acted as the whistle-blower in the entire Binani episode. The transporters have been carrying on logistics services under the contract agreement since 2011 and the Binani group companies, which merged over time, didn’t pay its freight amount. While they claimed that all expenses like fuel, vehicle maintenance, toll tax, road tax, interest in finance, and workers payout had to be borne by the creditors and the company received money from cement dealers in advance, freight payments were not made. Keshri said though the amount to be realised in not large, at just Rs 4 crore presently, it is an instance of fraudulent practice.