Considering the rapid increase of insolvency cases, the increased and more defined role of the service providers and stakeholders at different levels in companies, partnerships, banks etc., the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016 has become the ‘go-to’ for majority of grievances for the modern-day corporate-consumer. With the rapid revamping of the insolvency laws in a span of 2 years and the hustle-bustle that it created in the construction, banking and investment industry, the Corporate Consumer seems to have been resorting to the Insolvency Code’s redressal machinery, just as the Country saw a decade ago when the consumer laws in India were being codified.
The salient features of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Grievance and Complaint Handling Procedure) Regulations, 2017 (hereinafter referred to as “Regulations”) are:-
1. What are the Regulations?
The Regulations shall apply to the redressal of grievances/ complaint against service providers, insolvency professional agency, an insolvency professional, an insolvency professional entity or an information utility, etc.
2. What shall be classified as a complaint under the Regulations?
The Regulations provide for a very wide and inclusive definition of the term Compliant so as to mean a written expression by a stakeholder alleging contravention of any provision of the Code or rules, regulations, or guidelines made thereunder or circulars or directions issued by the Board by a service provider or any of its associated persons and includes a complaint-cum-grievance.
3. Who can file a complaint?
The regulations also endeavor to make the ambit of the term “stakeholder” a wide one. It means a debtor, a creditor, a claimant, a service provider, a resolution applicant and any other person having an interest in the insolvency, liquidation, voluntary liquidation, or bankruptcy transaction under the Code. By use of the terms ‘any other person having an interest in the insolvency, liquidation, voluntary liquidation, or bankruptcy transaction’ the definition seems impregnated with a wide ambit and becomes all inclusive.
4. What should the Complaint state?
The Complaint should be made in the form of Form A available in the Regulations. It should include:
- details pertaining to the identity of the aggrieved and the service provider (along with such conduct of the service provider that has caused the suffering to the aggrieved);
- details of suffering, whether pecuniary or otherwise, the aggrieved has undergone due to the conduct of the service provider
- details of his efforts to get the grievance redressed from the service provider, and the reasons of his unsatisfactory response;
- how the grievance may be redressed.
5. How much would it Cost?
INR 2500 or nothing! The complainant, though is required to deposit INR 2500 with the Board while making the complaint, if at the end of the compliant redressal process it is observed that the compliant is not frivolous, the Board shall refund the amount.
Any compliant should be filed within 45 days of the occurrence of the grievance and the unsatisfactory response of the service provider to redress it.
7. Where to file the Complaint?
Online. However, until the virtual infrastructure to start the online filing commences, complaints may be filed by emailing them at email@example.com or by post or hand delivery. Additionally, the Rules provide that even though the stakeholder is required to disclose his identity, the same can be kept confidential.
8. Can Complainant go Incognito?
No. Complainants are mandatorily required to disclose their identity as a part of the Complaint, failing which the complaint will not be entertained.
We assume, this is to protect the accountability and reliability of the aggrieved party and avoid unnecessary complications to the ongoing or anticipated proceedings as the same.
9. Will the complaint get a Unique Compliant Number?
Yes. A unique registration number shall be assigned by the Board to every grievance and every complaint and communicate the said registration number to the aggrieved or the complainant within a week of its receipt.
10. How much time will each case take for disposal?
The Board shall close the grievance within 45 days of its receipt if it does not require any redress and if it does require redress the Board shall direct the service provider to redress the grievance within 45 days.
11. Can complaints be reviewed by the Board?
If the complainant is unsatisfied with the Board’s decision, and if there exist a prima facie case for review the same shall be conducted within 30 days. If required, the Board may also direct an investigation, issue a show cause notice as per the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Inspection and Investigation) Regulations, 2017.