Karnataka HC imposes 10 lakh cost on company for petitions against Azim Premji

Despite the dismissal of earlier petitions, the petitioner filed fresh writ petitions with the same core issue.
Karnataka high court.(HT photo)
Karnataka high court.(HT photo)
Published on Feb 24, 2021 08:21 AM IST
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By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday imposed a cost of 10 lakh on India Awake for Transparency, a not-to-profit company, for filing multiple petitions on the same cause of action, to investigate and prosecute Wipro company founder Chairman Azim Premji and others.

A single bench of Justice PS Dinesh Kumar noted that multiple writ petitions were filed by the petitioner over allegations of acquisition of shares and amalgamation of companies. Despite the dismissal of earlier petitions, the petitioner filed fresh writ petitions with the same core issue.

"Though the dates of complaint are different, the subject matter is again the same i.e., transactions involving three Companies namely Vidya Investment and Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., Regal Investment and Trading Company Pvt. Ltd. and Napean Trading and Investment Company Pvt. Ltd.," the bench said noting, "Thus, there remains no doubt that the petitioner is indulging in forum shopping on the very same cause of action. As held in Udyami, this amounts to criminal contempt as the core issue in all these writ petitions is one and the same."

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"Three Companies together with 100% owned subsidiaries are worth 50,000 crores; that the three companies were set out as part of the promoter group of Wipro Ltd.; and neither Mr. Azim Premji or his family members had any equity in these companies," the petitioner stated.

As per the petitioner, the entities of Azim Premji, including seven companies mentioned in the complaint, have committed various violations under the Companies Act.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate R Subramanian opposed the preliminary objection of the respondents by saying that the relief sought in the PIL and the writ petition are not the same. A PIL was registered with the Karnataka High Court against Premji and associates that had the Ministry of Corporate Affairs as respondent No 2. The PIL was withdrawn unconditionally.

The court while announcing the verdict said, "In the result, this writ petition is not only devoid of merits but an absolute abuse of process of law. Though petitioner was forewarned, he chose to argue this writ petition as a stand-alone petition wasting the valuable time of this Court to deal with such frivolous cases." The cost of 10 lakh is to be paid to Registrar General, High Court of Karnataka, Bengaluru within four weeks.

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