The Supreme Court on Friday stayed criminal proceedings against former chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji, and his wife on their plea seeking quashing of the summons issued by a Bengaluru trial court on a ‘frivolous’ and ‘mischievous’ complaint filed by an NGO alleging breach of trust and corruption in merger of three firms with a Premji group firm. A bench of Justices Sanjya Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Hrishikesh Roy also issued notice to an NGO, Indian Awake for Transparency, and others and sought their response. Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, A M Singhvi appearing for Premji and others said that the complaint was ‘mischievous’ in nature.
Senior advocate S Ganesh and advocate Vipin Nair appearing for G Venkateshwara Rao, said that the NGO India Awake for Transparency is being used by one R.Subramanian, as a corporate façade to file ‘frivolous’ litigation. Premji and others have challenged the High Court order of May 15 which had rejected their pleas for quashing of the January 27, summons issued by the trial court.
Others who had challenged the High Court order include Pagalthivarthi Srinivasan, then regional director in the ministry of corporate affairs M R Bhat and chartered accountant G Venkateshwara Rao. The summons were issued by the trial court on the basis of a complaint filed by India Awake for Transparency alleging illegality in the transfer of assets worth Rs 45,000 crore from three companies into a private trust and a newly formed company.
In their appeals, Premji and others have said that the complainant NGO had suppressed material facts and documents including that the scheme of amalgamation had already been sanctioned by Karnataka High Court by order dated March 26, 2015. They said that the trial court order of January 27, taking cognizance and summoning the accused has been passed without judicial application of mind and without considering the fact that the scheme of amalgamation had already been approved by the High Court.
Rao in his appeal has said that the record clearly shows that complainant is linked to one R Subramanian-former promoter and director of a company known as Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd., which is a defaulter of Azim Premji”s companies and complaint under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is pending against it “…therefore there is clear animosity and bad blood between R Subramanian and Mr Azim Premji and the subject complaint appears to be one in line of many frivolous complaints and litigations instituted by R Subramanian against Azim Premji and his companies, many of which stand dismissed with cost by different courts/tribunals”, the appeal of Rao said.
The complainant India Awake for Transparency (IAT) had alleged that Azim Premji, Yaseem Azim Premji, and Pagalthivarthi Srinivasan were entrusted with the dominion over the properties and assets of three companies Vidya Investment and Trading Company Private Limited, Regal Investment and Trading Company Private Limited and Napean Investment and Trading Company Private Limited as directors.