August 17, 2021
Ms. Mehta is a Mumbai-based IP.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your academic and professional background?
I am a practising company secretary since last 25 years. Have completed my LLB and have taken the Limited Insolvency Exam. I have completed the INSOL International course, and I am also a member of International Women Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation.
How did you decide to become an IP?
I was practising as a company secretary since last 26 years, and was interested in the area of insolvency. I had the knowledge, the experience and wanted to learn something new. Therefore, I decided to go for it.
How many assignments (CIRPs and liquidations) have you undertaken so far? If possible, could you share the names?
So far, I have taken 14 cases. Three of those are in liquidation and another liquidation concluded recently.
How was your experience in the early days as an IP? What were some of the challenges you faced in your initial assignments?
My overall experience as an Insolvency Professional (IP) in terms of assignments handled, fees received, scope of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, is quite exciting, challenging, and encouraging. Yes, when any profession has this feature, then of course it will be stressful as well. But the stress diminishes with experience. As regard the fees, initially it seems like a good return. But as one enters the process and realises the time taken, the infrastructure required, and the daily challenges faced to solve the situation, then those fees do not seem as plum; or they at least seem like a deserving amount.
Further, as time passes and when an IP does not get any remuneration for months and years on end, then it can be a costly profession. As the IP cannot avoid the processes and allow them to be totally stopped, she has no choice but to bear the entire infrastructure cost from her pocket and also incur some expenses to ensure some compliances.
As regard the scope of IBC, yes, it should be effective for all kinds of debtors. But in view of the current infrastructure availability, it can become more efficient only after bolstering the infrastructure. Even though IBC’s scope is limited, it has such a big impact that it should be implemented properly with complete infrastructure. Its impact has been such, that I will just say it has impacted each and every person of the country, directly and indirectly. This is the most effective law in the country implemented till now.
Which has been the most interesting/challenging/memorable assignment for you so far?
In IBC, each case is challenging and interesting. Each day is challenging for an IP. But my first case, where it was decided to liquidate the CD as a going concern before the regulation was brought out, was interesting. Also, filing my first PUFE application was also a different experience, as it was the first PUFE application filed in India. Further, currently I am handling international arbitration in Dubai and Singapore for a corporate debtor in liquidation, which is quite interesting and challenging as well.
What have been the unexpected parts of being an IP? How have you dealt with them?
I faced a gherao in a remote part of Orissa, where I was the only lady, and I was visiting alone. But I handled it peacefully, and I was provided commando protection.
How do you think IBC has evolved so far? Where has it faltered, and where do you think it has a scope to do better?
IBC has evolved quite well. Further, the lockdown has and will provide it more opportunities to evolve. As everyone knows, strengthening the judiciary is the only area to be worked with.
What advice do you have for the professionals considering becoming an IP?
Rather than advising, I would like to inform them that this profession demands a lot of time, intellectual challenges and dealing with several people. So, one must be ready to face and solve various difficult and complicated issues and situations regularly, calmly and efficiently, as per the law, after interpreting the legal provisions, if they are not clear.
(This interview was conducted by Adv. Parth Indalkar and has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
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