Senior Advocate Arvind Datar Releases the Book ‘Wadhwa Law Chambers Guide to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code’

Chennai, April 1, 2020: Mr. Arvind P Datar, Senior Advocate, Madras High Court released the 2nd Edition of “Wadhwa Law Chambers Guide to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code” on April 1, 2021. The 2nd Edition of the Book is “extensively revised, updated and enlarged” thanks to the herculean efforts by a team of sixteen Advocates and this team was steered by two Honorary Chief Specialist Editors – Mr. R. Venkatavaradan and Mr. Saai Sudharsan Sathiyamoorthy.

The first copy of the two-volume book, published by Wadhwa Brothers, was presented to Hon’ble Mr. Justice N. K. Kirubakaran of the Madras High Court. The book carries a foreword penned by Hon’ble Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Judge, Supreme Court of India and the Introduction has been authored by Mr. Datar and Advocate R. Venkatavaradan. The book is edited by a team of six advocates – Mr. Anriudh Wadhwa, Mr. Kapil Wadhwa, Mr. Aditya Wadhwa, Mrs. Tejaswi Shetty, Mrs. Anandana Handa Wadhwa and Mr. Raghav Wadhwa.  The event was graced by several sitting judges of the Madras High Court and Senior Advocates of the Madras Bar.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The new edition covers around 6,000 case laws and more importantly, has examined the law of insolvency from various other disciplines as well. The likes of legal literature from several Commonwealth countries on law of insolvency are referred to and applicable portions from them are extracted in the book. Thus, the second edition of the Guide to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Wadhwa Brothers) strives to give the readers, virtually, a “world-view” on the law of insolvency.

WELCOME ADDRESS BY MR. R. VENKATAVARADAN

The book release event was hosted by Advocate Sriram Venkatavaradan – one of the Specialist Editors of the book. The event commenced with a short ‘Welcome Address’ delivered by Mr. R Venkatavaradan. In his speech, he recalled his days as a junior to Mr. Datar. Reminiscing his journey thus far, he recollected his visit to the library of former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Ashoke Sen in 1996 along with his Senior and Mr. K.K. Wadhwa where Mr. Datar pointed out to him his articles published in the Taxmann publication. It was then when he learnt how writing articles helped Mr. Datar in his early days in the profession. “It was then when I think the virus got infected in me…and it has taken almost twenty-five years (1996-2021) for the virus to mutate and have effect!” he added on a lighter note. On a concluding note, he acknowledged the commendable and enormous efforts of his junior associate, Mr. Saai Sudharsan (2018 Law Graduate) who led the team from the front and on whose shoulders rested the responsibility of making multiple drafts followed by review.

ADDRESS BY THE HOST: MR ARVIND P. DATAR

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Datar recalled how rapidly the law on insolvency has evolved in the past two years. The noted tax lawyer confessed that the law on arbitration and insolvency are more complex than the law on taxation. “In Income tax the law is not clear and the judges interpret it, but in Arbitration the law is clear but the courts make it complicated!” he added. Congratulating the Wadhwa Brothers for successfully publishing the book, Mr. Datar emphasized that “the book was a result of good team effort”. Drawing the attention of the audience to the finer details of the Book, he pointed out that in a total of 6,000 case laws coupled with 66 authoritative Commentaries have been referred to, thereby, making it an exhaustive work in this branch of law. “That’s the kind of scholarship and hard work which has gone into the writing of this book!” he complimented.

“This is the branch of law which is going to see more and more of litigation in the months to come,” Mr. Datar opined.

Seeing the battery of advocates being involved in the editorial process of revising the book, Mr. Datar said that he was reminded of his editorial experience in revising the several editions of the loci classici “Ramaiya on Company Law” and “Kanga & Palkhivala on Law and Practice of Income Tax” and authoring his notable commentary on Excise Law.

“When I saw the team of 16 people, I was reminded about Ramaiya which was written in 1988. That time it was just one volume – silver in colour. In the course of time, we kept on expanding it and it ultimately it became three volumes of Commentary with 24,000 case references. That’s how Ramaiya kept on expanding – thanks to the work of Mr. KK Wadhwa. The entire work on case laws was done only in Chennai. We had eleven people – Mr. Murari (Senior Advocate) being one among them. It was a superb team effort. The case laws part was done in Madras, the procedural part was done by Mr. Dugar in Delhi and ultimately the main work was done by Mr. Justice JC Shah from Bombay.” 

The Book pays tremendous attention to details and I find the old quality of Ramaiya coming back. I am sure that this book would go from two volumes to three volumes and more in the years to come with the kindness of Wadhwa, Venkat (avaradan), Saai and the entire young team.”

Mr. Datar’s message to young members of the Bar and law students

On being asked by Mr. KK Wadhwa to advise the youngsters, Mr. Datar joked: “I am always reluctant to advise to youngsters. Giving advice is bad. Giving good advice is fatal!

With the benefits of digitisation and information technology, Mr. Datar urged the younger members of the Bar and law students “to take up writing seriously”. Recalling his days when he was writing his book on Excise Law, Mr. Datar narrated the hardship he faced to access one judgment reported in the Gujarat Law Reporter on the prosecution of directors of a company – concept of vicarious liability (Section 9, Central Excise Act, 1944). He recalls, “I was in Nagpur and it was a pre-computerisation era. Just to get one book and one judgment therein, Mr. Wadhwa had to contact a High Court judge at Nagpur Bench, and then speak to the Registrar… post-which I went to the Library. The officials at the library declined to allow an ammonia photocopy (i.e. xerox). Ultimately, I had to make notes on my own – by hand. Today, everything is available on the web.”

“In whatever field you select – criminal law, IBC, Company law, taxation, my sincere advice to the youngsters is that – try to write a book in the field of your chosen career. Eleven (later corrected by Justice Kirubakaran as “sixteen” and not “eleven”) of my colleagues have now written books on different branches of law and that gives me a great satisfaction.” Speaking of the benefits of writing a book, Mr. Datar enumerated them:

  1. Not mastery, but a very deep knowledge on the subject of your practice.
  2. Long-term benefits: One may make more money in two Writ Petitions than from writing an entire book. But “the benefits accruing in the long run far outweighs anything you can think of: recognition in the profession – and Expertise in the subject.”

Write on Niche subjects”: “It is not possible to write on Evidence Act or C.P.C. now – as that would take some ten years. Write on niche subjects and special branches of law like cyber law, IBC, etc.,” Mr. Datar advised.

Arvind Datar and Other Dignataries Releasing the Book

ADDRESS BY THE CHIEF GUEST: JUSTICE N.K. KIRUBAKARAN

In his address to the gathering, Hon’ble Justice Kirubakaran suggested more and more orientation courses be organised for lawyers on IBC. The judge expressed some concerns regarding the non-advancement of the legal profession, “When other professionals like medicine and engineering are advancing, this (legal) profession is moving at a snail’s pace.”

“IBC and Arbitration (and Conciliation) Act are much more creative than any other branch of law,” the Judge noted.

Writing a Book is an art

“Anybody can argue a matter. Writing a book requires a special skill. It is an art.” Recalling one of the interviews of Mr Datar, he said, “he became famous and attained recognition soon after authoring and publishing the book in 1998.” Wishing the book a great journey ahead, Justice Kirubakaran urged the Senior Counsels practicing in the NCLT to conduct orientation courses on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 for younger members of the Bar as this would enhance their knowledge and expertise in the subject.

REMARKS BY THE AUTHORS:

Reflecting on the journey of the Code, the authors commented in the Introduction: “It is appropriate to reflect the performance of the Code thus far and to consider the way forward. With its inception in 2016, the Code consolidated past legislations relating to insolvency and restructuring and provided a time-bound mechanism for resolution of insolvency of companies, individuals and partnerships. The Code has sought to prevent the death of viable corporate concerns through the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process and to provide for a clean exit for others in in economic distress through the Liquidation Process. It was designed to ensure maximisation of value of assets, to correct the behaviour of borrowers, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit, and balance the interests of all stakeholders including alteration in the priority of payment of government dues.” 

Further, the authors observed: “The Code is exactly five years old. It has been a significant departure from the country old system of winding up with an Official Liquidator in charge of the liquidation process. It is no doubt that the present system is faster as it is much easier for the RP and for the Committee of Creditors to ensure a smoother and rehabilitation process. The numerous amendments that have been made shows that the Parliament has been quick to respond to the needs of the industry. The Supreme Court has also rendered numerous landmark rulings that have brought about considerable clarity and certainty. It is significant that most of these judgments have been rendered by a bench presided over by Justice R.F. Nariman who has, almost single-handedly, fashioned and moulded the law related to the insolvency.

On a concluding note, the authors said that, “the vastly expanded scope of the IBC has dominated the proceedings before NCLT. In most benches, there is hardly any time to deal with the traditional cases under the Companies Act, 2013 such as those relating to oppression and mismanagement. It is submitted that there is a strong case for confining the NCLT to IBC cases and sending other matters under the Companies Act, 2013 back to the High Courts as each of them had a company judge.

VOTE OF THANKS

The vote of thanks was proposed by Mr. R Venkatavaradan.

***

(This release has been prepared by Ujjwal Jain and reported by Mehak Rakhecha) 

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