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SC plan to settle Punwire’s liquidation deal
Employees to get Rs 50 lakh relief
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 15
In a major relief to the liquidated Punjab Government undertaking Punwire employees, the Supreme Court has rolled out a comprehensive plan for the payment of their dues by settling a dispute between two private companies — Winsome and Sungroup — over the purchase of assets of the public sector company.

The Sungroup, which had offered much higher price for Punwire's assets as compared to Winsome, was directed to pay ex-gratia sum of Rs 50 lakh to the employees union of the liquidated public sector company and the amount would be distributed equally among all employees who had not been paid their salary since June 1999 when the company became defunct due to heavy losses.

In respect of any employee who died during the interim period, their legal heirs would be entitled to the payment, a Bench of Mr Justice H. K. Sema and Mr Justice R.V. Raveendran said, allowing the appeal of the Punwire Employees Union against the Punjab and Haryana High Court order.

The union had moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order rejecting its petition favouring the sale of Punwire assets to Sungroup instead of Winsome as the former had offered Rs 11.6 crore for its Mohali plot measuring 14,550 sq yard. The high court had rejected the union's petition on the grounds that Sungroup had entered the field nearly 16 months after the liquidation deal with Winsome was finalised in 2004.

But the apex court approved the liquidation deal in favour of Sungroup for it offering Rs 11.6 crore for the plot as compared to Rs 3.36 crore by Winsome.

The apex court directed that Sungroup would pay Rs 6.36 crore to Winsome as refund of its money paid to Punwire as per original deed, including interest and the payment of loans it had obtained from two banks for buying the assets of the public sector company.

The remaining amount of Rs 5.24 crore would be deposited by Sungroup with the Official Liquidator (OL) appointed by the High Court, who would hand over the plot to the company after the settlement of all payments with filing a report to the Company Judge about the setting up of all dues as per the apex court order.

Since Sungroup had deposited Rs 2 crore as guarantee money with the OL when it entered the field, it was required only to pay Rs 3.24 crore in real term to Punwire apart from settling of Winsome's payments.

The defunct Punwire will be entitled to retain any interest occurred on Rs 3.36 crore paid by Winsome in the original deal and on Rs 2 crore deposited by Sungroup as guarantee money.

With the settlement of all payments as directed, the sale of Punwire's plot, its furniture and air-conditioned plant entered with Winsome earlier "shall" be set aside and in turn the sale of the plot would be confirmed in favour of Sungroup, the court said.

If the Sungroup wanted to purchase the furniture and air-conditioned plant as well, it would have to pay Rs 4.50 lakh and Rs 15.50 lakh, respectively, for each of them in favour of Punwire, the court said, adding that the money would be deposited by OL in the account of liquidated public sector company.





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