New Delhi: The sinking fortunes of Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited (IHFL) turned around in the space of a day. A company that had lost Rs 7,000 crore on the stock market due to various cases filed against it suddenly saw its shares surge 14 per cent on the National Stock Exchange Tuesday, when the law firm Managium Juris LLP issued a public apology, admitting it had filed false cases against Indiabulls.
Managium Juris, headed by father-son duo Ram Mani Panday and Kislay Panday, stated that all “false and factually incorrect complaints” against Indiabulls have been withdrawn, and admitted that the complaints were made “for the sole purpose of sensationalising allegations against Indiabulls and causing harassment to the company”.
The apology also claimed there were others who were “trying to scuttle” Indiabulls’ merger with Lakshmi Vilas Bank, but reassured IHFL that it would not be a part of any such activity.
“We now realise that misrepresentations and incorrect facts in the complaints/petitions have caused serious financial and reputational loss to Indiabulls… We undertake not to indulge in such activities ever in future,” the firm stated.
Merger talk was an ‘opportunity’
In its apology, Managium Juris stated that it came across a public disclosure made by Indiabulls regarding its plans to merge with Lakshmi Vilas Bank. It then decided to file cases against the company, “sensing this as a delicate and critical phase for the company and therefore an opportunity for the clients to exert pressure”.
What ensued was a slew of complaints before courts and various government authorities, making scathing allegations against the company through random individuals.
Among other cases, a petition was also filed against Indiabulls in the Supreme Court by one Abhay Yadav, which alleged that its chairman Sameer Gehlaut, along with other directors, siphoned off around Rs 98,000 crore for their personal use.
Indiabulls had sought early listing of this matter during the summer vacation. Representing the finance major, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi had submitted before the vacation bench that the allegations were just an attempt to blackmail the company. He had asserted that the petition had led to the company suffering losses of nearly Rs 7,000 crore in the markets.
The petition was withdrawn on 13 June, after it remained unlisted for various defects, including its failure to name Indiabulls as a respondent.
‘Corporate extortion racket’
In a statement issued on 10 June, Indiabulls had called the allegations “bizarre” and had claimed that a “racket of blackmailers” was trying to extort money from it in exchange for withdrawal of the complaints.
A complaint was also filed by Ashok Sehrawat, chief general manager of Indiabulls, alleging that he had received a call from an unknown number demanding Rs 10 crore to save the company’s reputation.
The Gurugram Police had alleged last month that Ram Mani and Kislay Pandey were “fake lawyers”, and that they had orchestrated several such extortion exercises. It said they would collect details about their targets — mostly non-banking financial companies — and would then file various petitions alleging financial irregularities in the company.
According to the police, four similar complaints have so far been registered against the duo in Delhi’s Seemapuri police station. In June, non-bailable warrants were issued against them for offences of fraud, cheating, extortion and conspiracy.
Kislay Panday has, however, denied the allegations, claiming that he received his law degree from Chaudhary Charan Singh Law College, Meerut, in 2013, and that he enrolled at the Bar Council of Delhi the same year.
As for the apology, he has claimed that “it was the wish of the clients and not the law firm or any individual advocates”.
“The entire apology is for and on behalf of client on their sole instructions. Rest the departments are free to investigate the contents of the case,” Panday added.