Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016:- An Indian Context

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Constitutionality of the provisions of the Code


The Code was enacted in 2016 following decades of recommendations suggesting improvements to the previous insolvency regime, which was fragmented, fraught with delays and resulted in poor recoveries for creditors. [1]

The insolvency resolution process in India has in the past involved the simultaneous operation of several statutory instruments.

These include the Sick Industrial Companies Act, 1985, the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, the Recovery of Debt Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, and the Companies Act, 2013.[2]

Broadly, these statutes provided for a disparate process of debt restructuring, and asset seizure and realization in order to facilitate the satisfaction of outstanding debts. [3]

As is evident, a plethora of legislation dealing with insolvency and liquidation led to immense confusion in the legal system, and there was a grave necessity to overhaul the insolvency regime.

All of these multiple legal avenues, and a hamstrung court system led to India witnessing a huge piling up of non-performing assets, and creditors waiting for years at end to recover their money. [5]

The Bankruptcy Code is an effort at a comprehensive reform of the fragmented regime of corporate insolvency framework, in order to allow credit to flow more freely in India and instill faith in investors for speedy disposal of their claims. [4]

The Code consolidates existing laws relating to insolvency of corporate entities and individuals into a single legislation.

The Code has unified the law relating to enforcement of statutory rights of creditors and streamlined the manner in which a debtor company can be revived to sustain its debt without extinguishing the rights of creditors[5]:-

1) The scheme of the Code marked a sea change from the previous regime. In respect of corporate entities, the Code introduced a creditor-in-control regime (with a focus on empowering financial creditors), a time-bound resolution process and reduced scope for judicial intervention, and established institutions such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, insolvency professionals and information utilities.[6]

Since the implementation of this new regime, the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Code has been challenged before various High Courts, and the Supreme Court.


The Code provides creditors with a mechanism to initiate an insolvency resolution process in the event a debtor is unable to pay its debts. The Code makes a distinction between Operational Creditors and Financial Creditors. [7]

A Financial Creditor is one whose relationship with the debtor is a pure financial contract, where an amount has been provided to the debtor against the consideration of time value of money (“Financial Creditor”).

Recent reforms have sought to address the concerns of homebuyers by treating them as ‘financial creditors’ for the purposes of the Code. [7]

By a recently promulgated ordinance, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 (“the Ordinance”), the amount raised from allottees under a real estate project (a buyer of an under-construction residential or commercial property) is to be treated as a ‘financial debt’ as such amount has the commercial effect of a borrowing.[7]

The Ordinance does not clarify whether allottees are secured or unsecured financial creditors. Such classification will be subject to the agreement entered into between the homebuyers and the corporate debtor.

In the absence of allottees having a clear status, there may be uncertainty about their priority when receiving dues from the insolvency proceedings. [7]

An Operational Creditor is a creditor who has provided goods or services to the debtor, including employees, central or state governments (“Operational Creditor”). A debtor company may also, by itself, take recourse to the Code if it wants to avail of the mechanism of revival or liquidation. [7]

In the event of inability to pay creditors, a company may choose to go for voluntary insolvency resolution process – a measure by which the company can itself approach the NCLT for the purpose of revival or liquidation. [7]

What was the judicial approach to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code?


With almost more than two years since the introduction of the Code, there have been various challenges in the effective implementation of the Code. However, constructive interpretation by the judiciary coupled with effective amendments to the Code has helped in eradicating most of these teething issues. [8]

Some of the key judicial pronouncements are discussed below:

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India which is the regulatory and supervisory body in charge of the IBC, has done a commendable job in proactively spreading awareness and regulating the space. [9]

Many important judgments were pronounced throughout the year, including certain landmark cases, where in the Supreme Court has tried to ensure that the spirit of the Code is given primacy over procedural requirements. [9]

Suspended Board of Directors of Corporate Debtor Entity are entitled to access the resolution plan and other related documents:-

In a significant judgments delivered on January 31, 2019, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India decided on an important aspect with respect to the rights of the suspended board of directors of the Corporate Debtor Entity to receive and access the resolution plan and other related documents, whose case has been admitted by the Adjudicating Authority under the relevant provisions of the Code. [10]

Facts of the Case:

In respect of Mr. Vijay Kumar Jain, Director of Corporate Debtor (‘Appellant’) vs. Standard Chartered Bank and Ors. (As ‘Financial Creditors’), the NCLT had approved the appointment of Resolution Professional (‘RP’) to conduct Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process of Corporate Debtor Company i.e. Ruchi Soya Industries Limited (‘RSIL’). [10]

The appellant, being a member of the suspended board of RSIL, was given notice and agenda for the first meeting of Committee of Creditors (‘CoC’) and was permitted to attend the meeting of CoC. The appellant alleged that he was not granted permission to participate in subsequent meetings of CoC. [10]

As a result, the appellant filed a miscellaneous application before the NCLT to allow his participation in the subsequent meetings of CoC. The appellant also executed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (‘NDA’) to keep information received through participation in the CoC meeting strictly confidential and even undertook to indemnify RP. [10]

However, NCLT vide its order dated August 1, 2018 dismissed the said application of appellant with liberty to the appellant to attend the COC meetings, but not to insist upon the CoC or RP to provide information which is considered as confidential by the CoC or RP. [11]

Against the said order of NCLT, the appellant filed an appeal before the Appellate Tribunal, which recognized the right of appellant to attend and participate on the CoC meetings but Appellate Tribunal vide its order dated August 9, 2018 [12] denied the prayer of the appellant to have access to certain documents including sensitive resolution plan.

The appellant aggrieved by the order of the NCLAT, filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. [13]

Apex Court Observations and Findings:

On advertising relevant provisions of the Code and arguments of parties to the dispute, the Supreme Court opined that notice of each meeting of the CoC will have to be given to the suspended board of directors of the corporate debtor entity. [14]

The Supreme Court further noted that the statutory scheme of IBC makes it clear that though the suspended board are not members of the CoC, yet, they have a right to participate in each and every meeting held by the CoC and also have a right to discuss along with members of the CoC, resolution plan that are presented at such meeting. [14]

The Supreme Court further observed that Section 31(1) of the Code make it clear once the resolution plan is passed by the Adjudicating Authority, it shall be binding on the corporate debtor together with guarantors and other stakeholders. [14]

This being the case, it is clear that the erstwhile board of directors, which consists of persons who may have given personal guarantees for the debts owed by the corporate debtor, will be bound by the resolution plan, and therefore, have a vital stake in what ultimately gets passed by the CoC’s.[14]

The Supreme Court also made it clear that so far as confidential information is concerned, RP can take an undertaking in the form of NDA from suspended board of directors of the corporate debtor entity with an objective to maintain strict confidentiality in regard to resolution plan and other related documents. [14]

Further, according to Regulation 39(5) of IBBI (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016, the RP shall forthwith send a copy of the order of the Adjudicating Authority approving or rejecting a resolution plan to the participants and resolution applicant. The term ‘Participants’ includes members of the erstwhile Board of Directors of Corporate Debtor. [14]

Thus in view of the above, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order of the Appellate Tribunal. [14]

What was the result of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in the present scenario? Also cite relevant case laws.

IBC came into being repealing SICA (Sick Industrial Companies Act), SICA was repealed with effect from 1 December 2016. [15]

To know the background of IBC, it is important to know more about SICA and why it failed to prevail as a law. [15]

This is the exact rationale for the existence of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in India which has been into effect since 2016. [15]

To know the background of IBC, it is important to know more about SICA and why it failed to prevail as a law. [15]

The journey from SICA to IBC

The SICA, 1985:-

The name SICA, itself connotes the reason for its actuality. India witnessed an atmosphere of rampant industrial sickness in the 1980s in furtherance of which the Government of India came up with key legislation i.e. the Sick Industrial Companies Act to combat the issue. [15]

Widespread industrial sickness affects the economy in a number of ways, thus The Act came into being to spot the sick or potentially sick companies owning industrial undertakings and take speedy remedial measures for their revival or in a scenario where there is no such measure, close such units. [15]

This was an action to get the locked up investment in such industrial units released and use them in a more productive manner. SICA was repealed and replaced by the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act of 2003, which diluted certain provisions of SICA and filled certain gaps. [15]

One of the main changes to the new law was that, in addition to combating occupational diseases, it also aimed to reduce the growing incidence by ensuring that companies do not use a medical certificate simply to evade legal obligations and access concessions granted to financial institutions to receive. [15]

The comprehensive performance of the Act did not live up to the expected results and thus, IBC was notified as on 28th May 2016 and the repeal of SICA came into full effect from December 1, 2016. [15]

IBC Kicks In

Mistakes of the past were taken in view and The Insolvency and Bankruptcy code came into being with a wider scope and aiming to resolve the issues via more effective provisions and implementation. It is an act to consolidate and amend the laws having reorganization and insolvency resolution issues as the subject-matter. [15]

The provisions of the Act shall apply to the following in case of insolvency, liquidation, voluntary liquidation or bankruptcy; [15]

“An Act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganisation and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximisation of value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and to establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.


1) Mobilox Innovations (P) Ltd. Vs. Kirusa Software (P) Ltd.- Supreme Court

Whether the expression “and” occurring in section 8(2)(a) may be read as “or”?

The Court held that the expression “and” occurring in section 8(2)(a) may be read as “or” in order to further the object of the statute and/ or to avoid an anomalous situation – once the operational creditor has filed an application, which is otherwise complete, the adjudicating authority must reject the application under Section 9(5)(2)(d) if notice of dispute has been received by the operational creditor or there is a record of dispute in the information utility – So long as a dispute truly exists in fact and is not spurious, hypothetical or illusory, the adjudicating authority has to reject the application – A “dispute” is said to exist, so long as there is a real dispute as to payment between the parties that would fall within the inclusive definition contained in Section 5(6). [16]

2) Surendra Trading Company Vs. Juggilal Kamlapat Jute Mills Company Ltd. & Others- Supreme Court:

The time limit prescribed in IBC, 2016 for admitting or rejecting a petition or initiation of CIRP under proviso to sub-sec. (5) of Sec. 9, is directory. [17]

The question before the NCLAT was to whether time of fourteen days under section 9(5) given to the adjudicating authority for ascertaining the existence of default and admitting or rejecting the application is mandatory or directory. [17]

NCLAT hold that the mandate of sub-section (5) of section 7 or sub-section (5) of section 9 or sub-section (4) of section 10 is procedural in nature, a tool of aid in expeditious dispensation of justice and is directory. [17]

Further question (with which supreme Court is concerned) was as to whether the period of seven days for rectifying the defects under proviso to sub-section (5) of Section 9 is mandatory or directory. The aforesaid provision of removing the defects within seven days is directory and not mandatory in nature. [17]

3) Essar Steel India Ltd. Vs. Reserve Bank of India-

RBI is authorized to direct any banking company to initiate insolvency resolution process- Gujarat High Court. [18]

A long-drawn legal battle for Essar Steel ends with this Supreme Court judgment. In one of the most discussed cases under IBC i.e. the case of Essar Steel Limited, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment which would probably be the final judgment of the case. Key highlights of the Essar Steel Supreme Court judgment are as follows: [19]

The requirement of completing the corporate insolvency resolution process within 330 days from the insolvency commencement date as introduced by the 2019 Amendment Act was held as non-mandatory. [19]

CoC can delegate its administrative powers or power of negotiation with the resolution applicants to a smaller committee (sub-committee) since such acts would be ultimately required to be approved and ratified by the CoC. [19]

Prospective resolution applicant has a right to receive complete information as to the CD, debts owed by it, and its activities as a going concern and as such it cannot suddenly be faced with “undecided” claims after the resolution plan submitted by it has been accepted. [19]

To put an end to uncertainty, parameters were laid down for limiting the scope of interference of Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Authority with the commercial decision taken by the requisite majority of CoC. [19]

The Supreme Court has re-emphasized the primacy of the commercial wisdom of the CoC in relation to resolution of the corporate debtor as well as difference in treatment of unequally placed creditors based on its earlier decisions in Swiss Ribbons and K. Sashidhar cases. [19]

Why are the judgments of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy cases pending with court?

The judgments of the cases are pending with the Court due to the Causes for the delays which range from frivolous challenges by operational creditors and promoters to basic issues like shortage of judges. [20]

There is no stipulated time-line for operational creditors to challenge the rejection of their claim, shortage of members at the bench, allowing intervention by promoters at the admission stage and long gaps between conclusion of hearing and passing of written orders are all causing delays,” said Sapan Gupta, national head banking and finance practice at Shardul Amarchand and Mangaldas. [20]

To be fair, delays are not a peculiarly Indian phenomenon. Many advanced countries struggle to provide quick, high-quality justice to citizens. But in India the scale of the problem is unprecedented. Focusing on capacity alone won’t reduce delays. [21]

A pervasive reason for the delays is adjournments. Many advanced countries struggle to provide quick, high-quality justice to citizens. But in India the scale of the problem is unprecedented.[21]


In conclusion, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, is a progressive legislation that is intended to improve the efficiency of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings in India. The new legislation provides for the early detection of financial distress and a time bound process for resolution. [22]

However, many details on the IBC’s implementation need to be worked out in the regulations, and its success will depend to a large extent on how quickly a high quality cadre of insolvency resolution professionals will emerge and on whether the time bound process for insolvency resolution will be adhered to in practice. [22]

The IBC has taken its first steps to regularize the insolvency process in India. It has amended over 11 legislations in India, bringing about one of the most significant changes to commercial laws in India in recent times. However, the 22 months of this nascent legislation have been ridden with controversies and speedy resolutions. [23]

It has also become a very important tool for banks to regularize multitudes of non-performing assets plaguing the country’s economy. Within 7 months of the enactment of the IBC, the Reserve Bank of India released a list of 12 companies which held about 25% of the gross non-performing assets of the country.[23]

With more than 11% of all loans in India being terms as bad loans, the IBC has become the need of the hour. The IBC has brought a plethora of changes to insolvency laws in India and aims to reduce the amount of bad loans that has saddled the economy over the last few years. [23]

We are beginning to see this through various companies successfully concluding their insolvency process. The first successful case of a CIRP was that of Bhushan Steel wherein TATA Steel agreed to purchase Bhushan Steel for Rupees Thirty-Two Thousand Five Hundred Crores. [23]

With many more insolvency resolution processes in the pipeline, only time will tell if the IBC will prove to be a successful tool with its objective of streamlining the insolvency process in India. [23]



































1) Bankruptcy Law Reforms Committee, The Interim Report of the Bankruptcy Law Reforms Committee (2015).

2) Rule 2.1.1. of RBI Master Circular – Prudential Norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning – Pertaining to Advances defines an NPA as ‘An asset, including a leased asset, becomes non-performing when it ceases to generate income for the bank. A ‘non-performing asset’ (NPA) was defined as a credit facility in respect of which the interest and/ or installment of principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time.

3) It must be noted that creditors having outstanding debts continue to have the right to approach an appropriate forum like civil courts or arbitral tribunals for recovery of debts which would be a contractual right of recovery.

4) As cited in the “Abstract” of “Emerging Jurisprudence on Corporate Insolvency” by Shipra Sayal Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

5) As cited in the “Introduction” Para of “A Primer on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” by Nishith Desai Associates:- The Legal and Tax Counseling Worldwide.

6) As cited in the “Introduction” para of “Understanding the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016:- Analysing the developments in jurisprudence” by “Vidhi Bankruptcy Research Programme” at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and the Legal Division of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.

7) As cited in the “Applicability” Para of “A Primer on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” by Nishith Desai Associates:- The Legal and Tax Counseling Worldwide.

8) As cited in the “4th Para ,viz, Series of Judicial Pronouncement” of “Series of Judicial Pronouncement – Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” written by Rushabh Ajmera on TaxGuru.

9) As cited in the “Introduction” Para of “Insolvency and Bankruptcy Hotline:- ANALYSING 2018 THROUGH THE LENS OF THE INSOLVENCY CODE” written on January 17, 2019 by Nishith Desai Associates.

10) As cited in the “4th Para” viz, Series of Judicial Pronouncement” of “Series of Judicial Pronouncement – Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” written by Rushabh Ajmera on TaxGuru Website India 11 months ago.

11) As cited in “NCLT pronounced order on August1, 2018”.

Click to access STANDARD%20CHARTERED%20BANK%20MA%20518-2018%20CP%201371-2018%20%20NCLT%20ON%2001.08.2018%20FINAL_2018-08-09%2009:46:45.pdf

12) As cited in “NCLAT pronounced order on August 9, 2018”.

Click to access 9th%20Aug%202018%20in%20the%20matter%20of%20Vijay%20Kumar%20Jain%20Vs.%20Standard%20Chartered%20Bank%20Ltd.%20&%20Ors.%20CA%20(AT)%20No.%20442-2018_2018-08-20%2011:14:26.pdf

13) As cited in “Facts of the Case Para” of “Series of Judicial Pronouncement – Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” by Rushabh Ajmera 11 Months ago on TaxGuru India Website.

14) As cited in ” Apex Court Observations and Findings Para” in “Series of Judicial Pronouncement – Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016” by Rushabh Ajmera 11 Months ago on TaxGuru India Website.

15) As cited in “IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016) – The Bankruptcy Law of India” written by Vidushi Trehan, LL.M from Symbiosis Law School, Pune , Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys.

16) As cited in “Brief about decision para” in ” “and” occurring in section 8(2)(a) may be read as “or”- Mobilox Innovations (P) Ltd. Vs. Kirusa Software (P) Ltd.- Supreme Court” written by IBC LAWSon September 21, 2017.

17) As cited in “Case Name: M/S. Surendra Trading Company Vs. M/S. Juggilal Kamlapat Jute Mills Company Limited and Others” written by IBC LAWS on September 18, 2017

18) As cited in “RBI is authorised to direct any banking company to initiate insolvency resolution process- Essar Steel India Ltd. Vs. RBI- Gujarat High Court” written on July 17, 2017 by IBC LAWS.

19) As cited in “The Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code In 2019 : Recent Amendments And Key Judgments” written by Mayur Shetty and Chintan Gandhi of Rajani Associates on 12th March 2020.

20) As cited in “Delay becomes the norm in insolvency & bankruptcy cases” by Joel Rebello & Saikat Das, ET Bureau on Aug 15, 2019 at 11:25pm.

21) As cited in “Hidden factors that slow our courts and delay justice” written by Arghya Sengupta.

22) As cited in “Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code” written on 12 September 2017 by Samvad Partners.

23) As cited in “2016: Overview Of The Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code, 2016” written by Namrata Bhagwatula , Senior Associate on 20 September, 2018.