Deccan Chronicle staff moves NCLT against transfers

New Delhi: Employees of Deccan Chronicle Holdings have approached NCLT complaining that the companys decision to close news bureaus and transfer the staff is illegal.

Deccan Chronicle, headquartered in Hyderabad, runs the English dailies Deccan Chronicle, Asian Age and Financial Chronicle, and the Telugu daily Andhra Bhoomi.

The case has been filed with the National Company Law Tribunal on the grounds that the SREI Multiple Asset Investments Trust’s Vision India Fund, which is set to take over DCHL, hasn’t assumed charge yet. Therefore, the employees contend, changes in the company structure are illegal.

For Deccan Chronicle, it has been a disastrous last few years. In 2015, its Chairman, T Venkattram Reddy, and his brother and the company’s Managing Director, T Vinayaka Ravi Reddy, were arrested for forgery to secure loans worth Rs 10,000 crore.

In 2017, the company was declared insolvent for failing to pay its creditors and bids were invited for its takeover. In 2019, Srei, based out of Kolkata, won the bid.

Over the last two months, DCHL has shut its bureaus in Kolkata, Kochi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, and transferred some of the staffers to the company’s offices in Hyderabad and Chennai. In February 2019, when insolvency proceedings were still underway, the Financial Chronicle was discontinued as a daily. However, its staff was retained, and Deccan Chronicle and the Asian Age began publishing business news on two pages under the Financial Chronicle masthead.

On June 3, 2019, the National Company Law Tribunal, which adjudicates matters pertaining to corporate bodies, approved Srei’s takeover plan of DCHL. The new management usually takes over a company immediately, but Srei hasn’t done so yet.

In its order on December 5, 2019, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal — which hears appeals against the orders of the NCLT — said that since Srei had not taken over DCHL, the company remained a “going concern”.

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