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MUMBAI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would consider a joint request for mediation between SpiceJet Ltd and Kalanithi Maran to settle a protracted share transfer dispute.

On Tuesday, Maran offered to settle the dispute through mediation, a proposal that SpiceJet accepted. The airline proposed the appointment of a retired judge to mediate between the two parties.

Mukul Rohatgi, the senior counsel representing SpiceJet, told the court that both SpiceJet and Maran are attempting a comprehensive settlement, including three issues that require detailed discussions.

Of the three issues, Rohatgi said, “One is the issue arising in this matter. There are two other issues which are not part of the present matter. The other side is keen to settle all three in one go. Two issues are foreign to this matter, and out of those, one has been settled on 29 July."

Rohatgi said SpiceJet has already settled the release of the security amount given by the respondents, Maran and others, for a loan to the airline from City Union Bank. “We have reached a settlement with the lender, and the security will be released," he said.

Another outstanding issue between the parties is the prosecution of the respondents (Maran and others) for the delay in filing tax deducted at source. Rohatgi said SpiceJet is working with the respondents to file a petition to quash the matter.

Rohatgi requested the court to list the matter after four to six weeks to settle all issues.

Vikas Singh, the counsel representing Kalanithi Maran, suggested that the settlement talks could be referred to the Hyderabad mediation centre for settlement. Rohatgi accepted the suggestion on behalf of Singh.

A bench led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana enquired if an arbitrator should be appointed, to which both Singh and Rohatgi requested that the matter should instead be sent for mediation.

In March, SpiceJet offered to pay 600 crore as a full and final settlement of all disputes between the parties. After hearing both parties, the top court had asked Maran to consider the offer made by SpiceJet.

The Supreme Court bench was hearing SpiceJet’s appeal against a 2 November 2020 Delhi high court order, asking the airline to deposit around 243 crore as interest in the share transfer dispute with its former promoter, Maran, and Kal Airways.

In February 2015, Maran transferred his entire shareholding in SpiceJet to Ajay Singh, the current chairman and managing director of the airline, after the airline nearly went belly up in 2014-15 due to a severe cash crunch. Singh, who paid 2 to take over the airline, also took over SpiceJet’s liabilities of 1,500 crore.

As part of the agreement, Maran and Kal Airways also made payments of 679 crore to SpiceJet, under Singh, for issuing warrants and preference shares. However, Maran approached the Delhi high court in 2017, alleging that SpiceJet had not issued the convertible warrants and preference shares or returned the money.

On 7 November 2020, the top court stayed the Delhi high court order asking SpiceJet to deposit around 243 crore as interest in the share transfer dispute.

SpiceJet and its promoter Singh were asked to deposit around 243 crore as interest on 579 crore, which the high court had, in 2017, asked the airline to deposit under the 2018 arbitration award in the share-transfer dispute.

PTI contributed to this story.

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