MUMBAI: A recent Apex Court ruling interpreting the term “deposit” under a Maharashtra law may increase the number of cases before various courts and tribunals.
Earlier, the Supreme court denies a Bombay high court order and upheld the Maharashtra government’s decision attaching the assets of 63 Moons Technologies Ltd under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Act.
The state government had attached these assets under the MPID Act, which aims to protect the middle class and poor depositors, and allows for graded distribution of seized funds among them after thousands of investors lost money in the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) scam.
The promoter of NSEL, 63 Moons Technologies, moved the high court, which struck down the attachment saying NSEL is not a financial establishment as it did not accept deposits. However, the top court said the high court lost sight of the fact that Section 2(c) of the MPID Act defines ‘deposit’ in broad terms. The high court has read the definition of ‘deposit‘ narrowly without any reference to the salutary purpose of the MPID Act, it said.
“The impugned notifications attaching the respondent’s properties made under Section 4 of the MPID Act are valid on the grounds of legislative competence, the Supreme Court said. When the writ petition was limited to the question of whether NSEL is a financial establishment for the purposes of the MPID Act, the apex court said the high court should not have made any observations on the merits of criminal proceedings.
“The 63 Moons Technology case perhaps witnessed a relaxed interpretation of the provisions entailed within the MPID Act when the matter proceeded to the Supreme Court. Section 2(c) when read with Section 4 lays down a wide ambit for the term ‘deposit’ along with several exclusions. The primary norm of interpretation empowers the judiciary to deviate from the written word only when the circumstances call for it. The broad recognition of the different forms of transactions within the purview of Section 2(c) altered the entire premise of NSEL,” said Sonam Chandwani, managing partner, KS Legal & Associates.
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(MARCH – APRIL 2022)