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The dispute between Westbridge Ventures and People Interactive (India) Pvt Ltd, of which Anupam Mittal was the founder, revolved around a shareholder agreement that stipulated Singapore as the seat of arbitration in case of any dispute
The National Company Law Tribunal has granted an interim stay on the arbitration proceedings initiated by Anupam Mittal, the CEO of Shadi.com, in Singapore. The arbitration proceedings were scheduled to take place from September 18th to September 22nd, 2023.
The order was passed on September 15 by a bench consisting of Justice Reeta Kohli and Technical Member Madhu Sinha.
“In view of the above stated peculiar facts, circumstances and the settled law, we are of theconsidered opinion that the Applicant deserves to be granted the relief of interim injunction and the arbitration proceedings scheduled from 18.09.2023 to 22.09.2023 deserve to be stayed,” the order reads.
Anupam Mittal had approached the NCLT bench of Mumbai following the Bombay High Court’s order granting a stay on the anti-suit injunction order passed against Mittal by the Singapore High Court. The Bombay High Court had stayed the Singapore High Court's order for 8 weeks for Mittal to approach the NCLT.
The dispute between Westbridge Ventures and People Interactive (India) Pvt Ltd, of which Anupam Mittal was the founder, revolved around a shareholder agreement that stipulated Singapore as the seat of arbitration in case of any dispute.
The dispute arose from Westbridge's intent to appoint nominees to the board of directors, which was opposed by Mittal, who alleged oppression and mismanagement.
Before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mittal argued that exclusive jurisdiction lies with the NCLT to address issues related to oppression and mismanagement. He contended that being deprived of the opportunity to raise concerns of oppression and mismanagement in the only available forum would amount to oppression itself.
Westbridge, on the other hand, asserted that the matter of contractual rights, as stated in the Shareholders Agreement binding on the parties, allowed him to initiate arbitration proceedings in Singapore.
Westbridge maintained that his contractual rights should not be restricted by an injunction application. Additionally, Westbridge stated that Mittal had the right to raise all arguments concerning oppression during the arbitration proceedings, and the Arbitrator would be competent to address the issues raised by Mittal.
NCLT, in its order granting a stay, referred to the Bombay High Court's observation that allowing the proceedings would result in irreparable harm to Mittal.
“We deem it appropriate to hold that the Respondent may still have a remedy of invoking Section 45 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 during the pendency of the Company Petition before NCLT. But on the other hand, the continuation of arbitration proceedings in Singapore and getting the exit rights of sale of shares by respondent will render the Petitioner remediless and the present petition infructuous,” the order reads.
Anupam Mittal was represented by Senior Counsel Ravi Kadam, Senior Counsel Sharan Jagtiani, Counsel Kunal Dwarkadas, Adv. Rahul Dwarkadas, Adv. Areez Gazdar, Adv. Nutash Kotwal, and Adv. Shireen Mistri.
Westbridge Ventures was represented by Senior Counsel Janak Dwarkadas along with Senior Counsel Nikhil Sakhardande, and Advocates Rajendra Barot, Anusha Jacob, Mrudula Dixit, and Richa Borthakur
Case title: Anupam Mittal vs People Interactive India Pvt. Ltd. & Ors
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