Furnish bank account details: HC to DMRC in execution plea by DAMEPL

Justice Suresh Kait gave the directions after DAMEPL counsel Prateek Seksaria argued that the metro rail operator has at least Rs 1,642.69 crore available in its bank accounts, and yet it is pleading its inability to secure its arbitration award.

The company is conducting surveys in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad for ridership estimation, through UMTC & Data Corp Traffic.
The company is conducting surveys in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad for ridership estimation, through UMTC & Data Corp Traffic.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) to furnish details of its bank accounts in India and abroad and how much money is lying in these bank accounts, even as the company cited financial inability to pay pending dues of over Rs 6,000 crore to Reliance Infrastructure’s subsidiary Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAMEPL).

Justice Suresh Kait gave the directions after DAMEPL counsel Prateek Seksaria argued that the metro rail operator has at least Rs 1,642.69 crore available in its bank accounts, and yet it is pleading its inability to secure its arbitration award.

DMRC told the HC that instead of paying the company it has proposed to take over Rs 5,000 crore debt of RInfra. He said that public functions will be affected if the entire amount is paid in one go and sought time to arrange money from banks to pay the arbitral award. DMRC had earlier this month paid Rs 1,000 crore in the escrow account.

“It is the case of the award holder that whatever we receive, we have to pay to the banks in the discharge of our duties. We suggested that we take over your debt and we pay to the bank. And the bank may give us instalments, etc that we will have to negotiate with the bank. Maybe, the bank may also give us some relaxation but you will be out of the liability. Maybe we as a government undertaking can negotiate with banks, and if banks agree to write off part of it, then good for us We have already started our negotiations with the bank,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for DMRC, told the bench.

However, Seksaria while rejecting the proposal said that banks are also not agreeable to this arrangement. He said that the lenders have already rejected the DMRC’s proposal and a letter in this regard has been received by the former metro operator. This is an execution proceeding and not a stage at which the judgment debtor can say that it has decided to make an offer, he argued.

Justice Kait, however, observed that it cannot force the Ambani group company to accept DMRC’s proposal. The judge also pointed out to the debt-laden company that under the law, other than “earnings” of Delhi Metro nothing else like land, machines, trains and offices can be attached to implement a court decree.

Senior counsel Parag Tripathi, also appearing for DMRC, said that even money earmarked for metro expansion is exempted.

DAMEPL is seeking enforcement of the arbitration award that it had won in May 2017. Even the Supreme Court had on September 9 upheld the Rs 4,600-crore arbitration award in favour of Anil Ambani’s group firm, enforceable against DMRC.

However, both sides have differed on how much additional interest has accrued on the amount. While DMRC says the liability now stands at around Rs 5000 crore, the RInfra arm says it is close to Rs 7,000 crore now and increasing each passing day.

The matter will be heard next on January 11.

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