Under the present Act, the only person who is competent to act as the liquidator in a winding up is the official liquidator. For the purpose of winding up, there shall be attached to each high Court an official liquidator appointed by the Central Government, who may be either a whole time or part time officer depending upon the volume of work. In district courts the official receiver will be the official liquidator. The Central Government may appoint one or more deputy or assistant official liquidators to assist the official liquidator in the discharge of his functions. There is no provision in the Act, for the removal of the official liquidator [Sec. 448(1) & (1-A)].
On a winding up order being made, the official liquidator, by virtue of his office, becomes the liquidator of the company (Sec. 449). Where the official liquidator becomes or acts as liquidator, there shall be paid to the Central Government out of the assets of the company such fees as may be prescribed.
A liquidator shall be described by the style of "The official liquidator" of the particular company in respect of which he acts and not by individual name [Sec. 452].
The Court may appoint the official liquidator to be the liquidator provisionally at any time after the presentation of the petition for winding up and before making winding up order [Sec. 450 (1)]. Before making such an appointment notice must be given to the company and a reasonable opportunity must be given to it to make representation. The Court may dispense with such notice where there are special reasons. Such reasons must be recorded in writing. A provisional liquidator is as much liquidator as a liquidator in the winding up of a company. But where a provisional liquidator is appointed by the Court, the Court may limit and restrict his powers. On a winding up order being made, the official liquidator shall cease to be provisional liquidator and shall become liquidator of the company.
General provisions for liquidators
The liquidator shall conduct the proceedings in winding up the company and perform such duties as the Court may impose. The official liquidator gets his remuneration from the Central Government and as such he is not entitled to any further remuneration. For the services rendered by the official liquidator to the company, the Central Government shall pay such fees out of the assets of the company as may be prescribed.
The acts of a liquidator shall be valid, notwithstanding any defect that may afterwards be discovered in his appointment or qualification. But his acts shall not be valid if they are done after it has been shown that his appointment was invalid [Sec. 451].
Statement of Affairs [Sec. 454]
The company must make out and submit to the official liquidator a statement as to the affairs of the company in the prescribed form verified by an affidavit and containing the following particulars :
Note that the statement must be submitted and verified by one or more of the directors and by the manager, secretary or other chief officer of the company and it must be submitted within 21 days from the relevant date or within such extended time not exceeding three months [Sec. 454 (3)].
Duties of the Liquidator
They may be summarised as under :
(i) He must conduct equitably and impartially all proceedings in the winding up according to the provisions of the law.
(ii) He must submit a preliminary report to the Court as to :
Note that the Court may extend the period of six months for the submission of the above report by the official liquidator. The Court may also order that no such statement need be submitted.
(iii) The official liquidator may, if he thinks fit, make further reports, stating the manner in which the company was promoted or formed. He may state in the reports whether in his opinion any fraud has been committed by any person in its promotion or formation, or since the formation thereof. He may also state any other matters which, in his opinion, it is desirable to bring to the notice of the Court [Sec. 455(2)].
(iv) He must take into his custody and control the property of the company.
Notice that so long as there is no liquidator, all the property and effects of the company are deemed to be in the custody of the Court [Sec. 456(2)].
(v) Control of powers : The liquidator must in the administration of the assets of the company and the distribution thereof among its creditors have regard to any directions which may be given by a resolution of the creditors or contributories at any general meeting or by the committee of inspection [Sec. 460(1)]. Any directions given by the creditors or contributories at any general meeting override any directions given by the committee of inspection.
(vi) To Summon Meetings of Creditors and Contributories : He may summon general meetings of the creditors or contributories for the purpose of ascertaining their wishes. But he shall be bound to summon such meetings, at such times, as the creditors or contributories may, by resolution, direct, or whenever requested in writing to do so by not less than one tenth in value of the creditors or contributories, as the case may be [Sec. 460 (3)].
(vii) Proper Books : The liquidator must keep proper books for making entries or recording minutes of proceedings at meetings and of such other matters as may be prescribed. Any creditor or contributory may, subject to the control of the Court, inspect any such books, personally or through his agent [Sec. 461].
(viii) He must, at least twice in each year, present to the Court an account of his receipts and payments as liquidator. The account must be in the prescribed form and must be made in duplicate. The Court gets the account audited, keeps one copy thereof in its records and delivers the other copy to the Registrar for filling. Each copy shall, however, be open to the inspection of any creditor, contributory or person interested. The liquidator must also send a printed copy of the accounts so audited by post to every creditor and to every contributory.
(ix) Within two months from the date of the direction of the Court, the liquidator must call a meeting of the creditors for determining the persons who are to be members of the committee of inspection, if such committee is to be appointed. Within 14 days of the meeting of the creditors, the liquidator must call a meeting of the contributories to consider the decision of the creditors.
(x) Within two months of the expiry of each year from the commencement of winding up, the liquidator must file a statement duly audited, by a qualified auditor with respect to the proceedings in, and position of, the liquidation.
The statement must be filed :
Note that when the statement is filed in the Court, a copy must simultaneously be filed with the Registrar and must be kept by him along with the other records of the company [Sec. 551].
Powers of The Liquidator
A liquidator has two types of powers under the Act :
Powers with the Sanction of the Court
Note that the Court may by order provide that the liquidator may exercise any of the above powers without the sanction of the Court [Sec. 458).
Powers Without the Sanction of the Court
The liquidator may exercise the following powers without the sanction of the Court, namely, powers :
Supervision and control over liquidators
1 Control by contributories and creditors
The contributories and creditors exercise control over the liquidator in the performance of his duties through the medium of the meetings which it is his duty to call from time to time. Any creditor or contributory may, subject to the control of the Court inspect the books which are maintained by the liquidator. The liquidator is also required to print and send a copy of the audited accounts to each creditor and contributory.
2. Control by Court
The liquidator shall apply to the Court for directions in relation to any matter arising in the winding up. The Court has the power to confirm, reserve or modify any act or decision of the liquidator if complained by any aggrieved person. The Court has the power to cause the accounts of the liquidator to be audited in such manner as it thinks fit.
3. Supervision by committee of inspection
The committee of inspection can inspect the accounts of the liquidator at all reasonable times. The liquidator is under an obligation to have directions from the committee of inspection.
4. Control by Central Government
Section 463 seeks to bring the conduct of the liquidators of companies under the control and scrutiny of the Central Government. Where a liquidator does not faithfully perform his duties and duly observe all the requirements imposed upon him by the Act or the rules thereunder with respect to the performance of his duties, or if any complaint is made to the Central Government by any creditor or contributory in regard thereto, the Central Government shall enquire into the matter, and take such action thereon as it may think fit . The power includes the power to remove the liquidator from office.
The Central Government may at any time require any liquidator of a company which is being wound up by the Court to answer any inquiry in relation to any winding up in which he is engaged. It may also, if it thinks fit, apply to the Court to examine him or any other person on oath concerning the winding up. The Central Government may also direct a local investigation to be made of the books and vouchers of the liquidator
The provisions of this section do not apply where the winding up has been completed after dissolution.
Committee of Inspection (Sections 464, 465)
The Court may, at the time of making an order for the winding up or at any time thereafter, direct that there shall be appointed a committee of inspection to act with the liquidator. Where such a direction is given by the Court, the liquidator is required to convene, within 2 months from the date of the direction, a meeting of the creditors to determine who are to be the members of the committee, within 14 days from the date of the creditors' meeting, the liquidator must call a meeting of the contributories to consider the creditors' decision with respect to the membership of the committee. Contributories may accept the decision of the creditors with or without modification or reject it. If the contributories at their meeting do not accept the creditors' decision in its entirely, the liquidator shall apply to the Court for directions as to what the composition of the committee should be and who shall be its members. The committee shall consist of not more than 12 members, being creditors or contributories of the company in such proportion as may be agreed on by the meetings of the creditors and contributories and in case of difference of opinion, as may be determined by the Court. The Committee may inspect the accounts of the liquidator at all reasonable time.
The committee will meet at such times as it may from time to time appoint and the liquidator or any member of the committee may also call a meeting of the committee as and when he thinks necessary. The quorum for a meeting of the committee will be one-third of the total number of the members or two, whichever is higher. The committee may act by a majority of its members present at a meeting but shall not act unless a quorum is present. A member may resign by notice in writing signed by him and deliver to the liquidator. If a member of the committee is adjudged as insolvent or compounds or arranges with his creditor or is absent from five consecutive meetings of the committee without leave of those members, who together with himself, represent the creditors or contributories, his office shall become vacant. A member of the committee may be removed at a meeting of the creditors, if he represents creditors, or at a meeting of contributories if he, represents contributories, by an ordinary resolution of which seven days' notice has been given stating the objects of the meeting. When any vacancy has occurred in the committee, the liquidator will call a meeting of the creditors or contributories, as the case may be, and the meeting may reappoint the same person or appoint some other person in the vacancy. However, the liquidator may apply to the Court that the vacancy need not be filled in and if the Court is satisfied that in the circumstances of the case the vacancy need not be filled, it may make an order accordingly.
Dissolution of Company in Winding up by the Court
The Court may make an order for the dissolution of a company in the following conditions : (a) When the affairs of the company have been completely wound up ; or (b) when the Court is of opinion that the liquidator cannot proceed with the winding up of a company for want of funds and assets or for any other reason and it is just and equitable in the circumstances of the case that an order of dissolution of the company should be made. Where such an order is made by the Court, the company will be dissolved from the date of the order of the Court. Within 30 days from the date of the order, the liquidator must send a copy of the order to the Registrar. On the dissolution, the corporate existence of the company comes to an end.
Company in liquidation exists as juristic personality until order of dissolution is based by the Court. After the order of dissolution, the legal personality of the company come to an end. The Court may declare the dissolution void within 2 years from the date of the dissolution.