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Invesco's petition against Zee not illegal, orders Bombay HC

Invesco moved the division bench against Zee and its CEO Punit Goenka on the basis that the high court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter and it should be heard and decided by the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal)

The Bombay High Court has allowed an appeal filed by Invesco Developing Markets Fund against the single bench of Justice Gautam Patel’s order granting an interim injunction to Zee on restraining the investor from holding an Extraordinary General Body Meeting.

Invesco moved the division bench against Zee and its CEO Punit Goenka on the basis that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter and it should be heard and decided by the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal).

The division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav, said, "The appeal is allowed. The single bench order is quashed and set aside. We have held that the requisition notice (sent by Invesco to Zee) is neither illegal nor incapable of being set aside."

In accordance with Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy's request (appearing for Zee), the bench said status quo would be maintained for three weeks on the order. In between, Zee may challenge the HC order before the Supreme Court to seek relief.

The bench also said it has repealed all the observations made by the single bench in its order. 

The legal battle between Zee and Invesco (which holds 17.88% of Zee’s shares) started in September 2021, when the latter requisitioned the company to hold an EGM to remove Punit Goenka as the managing director, along with three other directors from Zee’s board, and appoint new independent directors. 

When Zee refused to respond to the requisition, Invesco appealed before the National Company Law Tribunal in Mumbai, which ordered Zee to consider the requisition in accordance with the law.

On October 2, Zee then filed a suit before the Bombay High Court under the ordinary original civil jurisdiction (Civil Suit), inter alia requesting the Bombay High Court to declare that the requisition notice sent to the company by Invesco and OFI Global China Fund LLC (shareholders of the Company) is illegal and invalid.

To Zee’s relief, in an interim order on October 21, a single bench of Justice Gautam Patel granted an injunction against holding of the EGM. 

Invesco then moved the court against Justice GS Patel's October 2021 order, it said that the high court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter and it ought to have been heard and decided by the NCLT.

According to reports, NCLT will hear Invesco’s petition on March 31, 2022.

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