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New Delhi: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is set to get more members as part of the government’s plan to add capacity in dealing with cases relating to company law, bankruptcy, competition law and auditing.

The idea is to appoint nine judicial members and six technical members in NCLT and three judicial members and two technical members in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), showed separate announcements from the corporate affairs ministry inviting applications.

A Parliamentary standing committee report tabled in Lok Sabha in August had shown that there were 34 vacancies of members in NCLT against its total sanctioned strength of 63 memberships. The Committee had also emphasized on the need for institutional capacity building in order to ensure that the time taken for bankruptcy resolution is reduced. The Committee had also flagged that bankruptcy resolution had exceeded the time frame envisaged in many cases.

NCLAT is the appellate authority for deciding on appeals against the decisions NCLT. It has two benches and a sanctioned strength of 11 members. The ministry’s notice seeking applications also showed the government’s intention to set up more tribunal benches in future.

Besides bankruptcy resolution, NCLT benches are crucial for adjudication of corporate and shareholder disputes, especially those involving allegations of oppression and mismanagement. Also, it is the platform that small shareholders who meet certain specified threshold can approach for resolution of grievances against the management.

Given the capacity constraints, the government earlier this year offered an alternative bankruptcy resolution scheme for small companies, which is informal up to a point, after which businesses and lenders could seek the blessings of the tribunal for a turnaround plan. The scheme, called pre-pack resolution, is also expected to keep cost of bankruptcy resolution low for small businesses.

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