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Cochin Stock Exchange Ltd vs P.P.Zibi Jose on 8 July, 2010

Kerala High Court
Cochin Stock Exchange Ltd vs P.P.Zibi Jose on 8 July, 2010
       

  

  

 
 
  IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM

SA.No. 884 of 1996()



1. COCHIN STOCK EXCHANGE LTD.
                      ...  Petitioner

                        Vs

1. P.P.ZIBI JOSE
                       ...       Respondent

                For Petitioner  :SRI.KOSHY GEORGE

                For Respondent  :SRI.C.T.JOSEPH

The Hon'ble MR. Justice HARUN-UL-RASHID

 Dated :08/07/2010

 O R D E R
                      HARUN-UL-RASHID,J.
              ------------------------------
                      S.A.NO.884 OF 1996
              -------------------------------
              DATED THIS THE 7TH DAY OF JULY, 2010

                            JUDGMENT

Defendant in O.S.No.1555/88 on the file of the

Principal Munsiff’s Court, Ernakulam is the appellant. The

plaintiff in the suit is a member of the defendant-Cochin Stock

Exchange. The suit was originally filed for a declaration that

Clause 312 of Ext.A1 bye-law and regulations of the

defendant-stock exchange is illegal, ultra vires and void and for a

declaration that Ext.A16 notice dated 23/12/1987 issued by the

defendant declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter is illegal, ultra

vires and void and for a mandatory injunction for restoration of

plaintiff’s right as a member of the defendant-stock exchange.

The prayer in the suit was substituted by an amendment of the

plaint. The amended plaint is for declaration that the notice

dated 23/12/1987 is illegal, ultra vires and for mandatory

injunction for restoration of the plaintiff’s right as a member of

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the defendant stock exchange. The trial court held that the

plaintiff is not entitled to get any relief and dismissed the suit.

The Lower Appellate Court allowed the appeal and decreed

the suit as prayed for. The parties are hereinafter referred to as

the plaintiff and defendant as arrayed in the suit.

2. The defendant in the suit is the Cochin

Stock Exchange Ltd., represented by its President. The

plaintiff, who was a member of the defendant, was engaged in

the business as a share and stock broker in the name and style

P.P.Zibi Jose and Company. For the administration and

control of the affairs of the defendant-stock exchange, bye-

laws and regulations are framed by the defendant in 1978.

Ext.A1 is the copy of the bye-law and Ext.A2 is the copy of

the memorandum of articles of association.

3. Regulation 312 of Ext.A1 bye-law provides

for declaring a member of the defendant as defaulter by the

direction of the Council of Management in any of the

circumstances mentioned therein. Any member, who shall

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cease to be a member, may be re-admitted by the Council of

Management of the defendant as per Article 52 of Ext.A2

Articles of Association. In the plaint it is averred that the

plaintiff is entitled to do the business of share broker on the

floor of the defendant. According to the plaintiff, in August

1987 he had sold certain shares to M/s.Joseph & Thomas. The

amount due from the said firm to the plaintiff is Rs.25,400/-,

that the plaintiff had also purchased certain shares from the

said firm and that after adjusting the amounts, a sum of

Rs.19,300/- is due from the said firm to the plaintiff. It is also

averred that likewise the plaintiff had entered into certain

transactions with M/s.Joy Thomas & Co. and Kolenchery &

Co. Another sum of Rs.4,600/- is due to the plaintiff from the

defendant in settlement No.1 under the new settlement

programme and therefore the Stock Exchange is bound to

recover from the aforesaid persons the amounts due to the

plaintiff and pay the same to him. It is averred that to the

knowledge of the plaintiff neither the Council of Management

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nor the President has decided to extent the time for delivery of

the shares and that it appears that there was an auction

arranged by the defendant for the disposal of certain shares. It

is further averred that the defendant informed the plaintiff that

he has to take delivery of shares worth Rs.27,003/- and called

upon him to do the needful on or before 14/12/1987 and that in

case of failure to comply with the said direction, disciplinary

action will be taken. The plaintiff by letter dated 11/12/1987

requested the defendant to furnish details of shares to be taken

delivery by him but the defendant did not furnish the details

as requested by the plaintiff. By notice dated 23/12/1987 the

defendant informed the plaintiff that he had been declared as a

defaulter with effect from 21/12/1987. The notice dated

23/12/1987 marked as Ext.A16 does not disclose the reasons

for invoking Regulation 312 and he was not given an

opportunity to explain as to why he should not be declared as a

defaulter. For these reasons it is alleged that the action of the

defendant is in violation of the principles of natural justice and

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is influenced by extraneous considerations. The plaintiff

prayed for declaratory decree that Ext.A16 notice is illegal,

ultra-vires and void and also prayed for consequential

injunction directing the defendant to restore the right of the

plaintiff as a member of the defendant-stock exchange.

4. The defendant filed a detailed written

statement denying the averments in the plaint and prayed for

dismissal of the suit. According to the defendant, the plaintiff

as a member of the Cochin Stock Exchange failed to discharge

his obligations as enjoined under Ext.A1 bye-law, Ext.A2

Memorandum of Articles of Association, circulars and

instructions issued from time to time, that he has violated the

bye-law and regulations repeatedly during the course of his

business, that he repeatedly failed to settle the dues on the due

dates as per the settlement programme and that by circular

dated 28/9/1987 all the members were requested to give

statement regarding the deliveries pending to be effected for

settlement No.1 before 2 p.m. on 29/9/1987, but the plaintiff

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failed to give the statement as required. It is also averred in

the written statement that in the light of the direction issued by

this Court in O.P.No.7225/87 all the members are required to

furnish details of transactions done with P.K. Joy, who is also

a member of the Stock Exchange. It is averred that the

plaintiff did not care to do so as required. The defendant

contended that the plaintiff deliberately concealed his dealings

with the said Joy outside the floors of the exchange which are

specifically prohibited under the Securities Contracts Act. It is

further stated in the written statement that the plaintiff was

also conducting business in several names contrary to the

permission granted to him, he has concealed several

transactions from the defendant, he failed to make payment

due from his settlement No.2 etc. Besides this, it is alleged

that the plaintiff failed to comply with the directions issued by

the Cochin Stock Exchange to furnish statements of accounts

of his business in relation to several other transactions. The

defendant also narrated several other instances in the written

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statement which would point out the violation of the

provisions of the bye-law, memorandum of articles of

association, circulars and directions issued to the plaintiff. It is

stated that in the circumstances, the Council of Management,

after considering all the aspects in detail in its meeting held on

21/12/1987, had declared the plaintiff as a defaulter by

invoking the powers conferred on it vide Article 149 and bye-

law 312 and thereupon the plaintiff ceased to be a member of

the exchange with effect from the said date. Ext.A16 is the

notice issued to the plaintiff informing him that he has been

declared as a defaulter with effect from December, 21, 1987

and hence he ceases to be a member of the exchange from the

said date. Ext.A16 notice dated 23/12/1987 was issued based

on Ext.A17 proceedings of the Cochin Stock Exchange. In

Ext.A17 proceedings after declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter

on his failure to fulfil and discharge the engagements,

obligations and liabilities to the exchange and its members, the

Council of Management further informed the plaintiff that he

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is at liberty to apply for re-admission as a member, as per

Articles 47 to 54 of Ext.A2 Memorandum of Articles of

Association.

5. The reasons stated for declaring the plaintiff

as a defaulter is explained in detail in Ext.A17 dated

21/12/1987. The sum and substance of the reasons are as

follows:

i) Failure to make payment for settlement
Nos.1 and 2, though notice was issued calling upon
the plaintiff to make payment. It is stated that that the
payment was made belatedly. The defendant
informed the plaintiff that failure to make payments in
time for settlement Nos.1 and 2 is a deliberate and
mala fide acts calculated attempt to disrupt and
defame the functions of the Stock Exchange and its
members and to create inconvenience to public with
the intention of undermining their confidence in the
exchange.

ii) Failure to inform the stock exchange regarding
the deliveries pending to be effected for settlement No.1
which the plaintiff is required to be maintained as a
member as per the mandatory requirements under SCR
Act, Rules and By-laws.

iii) The stock exchange by letter dated 8th
October, 1987 informed the plaintiff to furnish

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details of the illegal clandestine transactions done
with Sri T.K. Joy. It is stated in paragraph 3 of
Ext.A17 that the plaintiff failed to furnish the details
as required, even though the failure to furnish the
details required in the communication dated 8th
October, 1987 has brought the exchange to a virtual
crisis. It is also stated in the proceedings that the
plaintiff has deliberately concealed the transaction
with T.K.Joy in his daily returns with the exchange.
The plaintiff purposefully failed to co-operate with
the exchange, though he has been asked to reveal the
transaction with T.K. Joy.

iv) It is further pointed out in Ext.A17 that the
plaintiff was permitted by the exchange to carry out
his securities business only in the name of P.P. Zibi
Jose & Co. But it is found that the plaintiff was
operating his business illegally through various
dummy firms. It is also stated that those transactions
were deliberately concealed from the exchange
authorities.

v) The plaintiff failed to furnish to the stock
exchange the statements of accounts of his business
with M/s.Kolenchery & Co, M/s.Joy Mathew & Co.
and M/s.Joseph and Thomas. It is said that the
details are necessary in order to know the
genuineness of the plaintiff’s claim stated in the
letter dated 15th October, 1987. He also failed to
furnish details of transaction of settlement No.1. It
is stated that the failure to furnish the details is not
expected from a disciplined member and the action
of the plaintiff is deliberately intended to harm the
exchange and its members.

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vi) The plaintiff failed to settle the disputes that had
arisen between him and Mr. and Mrs.C.S.

Chandran, though requested by the stock exchange
in its letter dated 9/12/1987. The letter was issued
based on the complaint received from M/s.Choksey
Bhargava & Co., Calcutta.

vii) The plaintiff has made a newspaper statement
against the members of the exchange, the authorities
of the exchange and also against the exchange to
give the impression that its members are in financial
crisis. It is said that the attempt is to discredit the
exchange and its administrators before investing
public is an act unbecoming of a member.

viii) It is also stated that the plaintiff failed to make
payments to various members of the exchange.
Plaintiff was informed that some of the cheques
issued by him to certain members have been
dishonoured.

ix) The plaintiff failed to deliver the shares sold by
him and refused to accept shares brought by him in
respect of settlement in 6A and other transactions,
even though statements were given to the plaintiff
from the exchange.

x) The exchange issued a letter dated 11/12/1987
calling upon the plaintiff to remit the exchange a
sum of Rs.27,003/- being the amount due from him
in respect of settlement No.6A.

6. It is stated in Ext.A17 that the defendant was

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constrained to declare the plaintiff as a defaulter on his

failure to fulfil and discharge his engagements, obligations and

liabilities to the exchange and its members. Ext.A17

proceedings also would go to show that the Cochin Stock

Exchange issued notices on various occasions to the plaintiff

calling upon him to furnish details of transactions of

settlement Nos.1 and 2 and directing to remit to the exchange

the amounts due from him in respect of settlement No.6A.

7. The plaintiff as a member is governed by the bye-

law and memorandum of articles of association formulated for

the administrative purposes. Plaintiff contended that he was

declared as a defaulter by the stock exchange by violating the

Rules and Regulations, that the action of the stock exchange is

not done in good faith and that the procedure adopted by the

defendant in declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter is violative of

the principles of natural justice. These questions raised by the

plaintiff were considered by the trial court in detail.

8. Ext.A16 is the decision of the stock exchange

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based on Ext.A17 proceedings. By Ext.A16 notice the plaintiff

was informed that he has been declared as a defaulter with

effect from 21/12/1987. The reasons for declaring him as a

defaulter are elaborately explained in Ext.A17 proceedings. A

combined reading of Ext.A16 and Ext.A17 would disclose the

reasons for declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter.

9. The relevant portion of Regulation 312 of

Ext.A1 bye-law is extracted below:

“A member shall be declared a defaulter by

direction of the Council of Management or the President

or in the absence of the president by direction of any two

members of the Council of Management–

(i) if he is unable to fulfil his engagements.”

10. The reasons for the action taken set out in

Ext.A17 proceedings are extracted in the preceding

paragraphs. After declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter in

Ext.A17 proceedings, the defendant informed the plaintiff that

he is at liberty to apply for re-admission as a member as per

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Articles 47 to 54 of the exchange. Ext.A17 proceedings and

Ext.A16 notice were issued in pursuance of a resolution of the

Council of Management. Ext.B3 is the minutes of the meeting.

The trial court, after perusing Ext.B3 minutes, found that the

Council of Management had a detailed discussion on the

subject and perused all the relevant correspondence and

records and satisfied that in the interest of the Exchange the

plaintiff should be declared as a defaulter.

11. In pursuance of the resolution referred above,

Ext.A17 was drawn and served on the plaintiff. Both parties

admitted that Regulation 312 deals with the situation regarding

declaration on the basis of default. It is the case of the plaintiff

that Regulations 168 to 190 of Ext.A1 are applicable to such a

situation and it is not proper for the defendant to invoke

Regulation 312 of Ext.A1. The defendant contended that they

were constrained to declare the plaintiff as a defaulter not due

to the single transaction concerning the settlement No.6A, but

also due to the failure of the plaintiff to fulfil the obligations to

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the defendant, being a member. Regulation 312 deals with

exclusively the situation regarding the declaration on the basis

of default. In the facts and circumstances, it is not correct to

say that Regulations 168 to 190 of Ext.A1 are applicable.

Exts.A16 and A17 would help to draw the answer as to what

permitted the stock exchange to declare the plaintiff as

defaulter. Several reasons are stated in Ext.A17 for taking

action against the plaintiff under Regulation 312. It is not

disputed before this Court that Stock Exchange was the

authority to invoke Regulation No.312. According to the

plaintiff, instead of invoking Regulation No.312 the Stock

Exchange ought to have resorted to Regulations 168 to 190.

12. From Ext.A17 and related documents, this Court

is convinced that there are sufficient reasons for the stock

exchange to resort Regulation 312 of Ext.A1 and to declare the

plaintiff as a defaulter. The declaration was made not based on

a single transaction concerning settlement No.6A; but due to

failure of the plaintiff to discharge the obligations to the

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defendant, being a member under series of transactions. The

evidence adduced by the parties also would show that the

declaration was done, as the plaintiff was unable to fulfil his

engagements or obligations to the defendant and its members.

Ext.A17, Ext.B3 and other related documents revealed that the

plaintiff failed to fulfil his engagements. It has also come out

in evidence that the plaintiff was not prompt in making

payments to the defendant and the defendant was constrained

to issue notices on several occasions to get money from him.

The action of the defendant in issuing notices is an indication

to the plaintiff’s failure to fulfil his engagements in due time.

Ext.A17 proceedings referred to some other notices issued

other than Ext.A14 notice to the plaintiff calling upon him to

fulfil his obligations and engagements.

13. The trial court has considered the questions in

detail and observed that the plaintiff has got obligation to the

defendant and he has no right to make news publication

which would affect the reputation of the defendant adversely.

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The court below made such an observation finding that some

news affecting the reputation of the Stock Exchange had

appeared in the newspaper because of the information passed

on by the plaintiff to the press. The trial court further held that

it is clear from the evidence on record that the Stock Exchange

passed proceedings in good faith and declared the plaintiff as a

defaulter.

14. The learned counsel for the Stock Exchange

submitted that in view of the peculiar nature of business carried

on in the floor of the Stock Exchange and the nature of its

functions, it is not practical to issue notices calling upon the

party to appear for hearing and a full-fledged hearing cannot be

conducted. According to the learned counsel, decisions were

taken after deliberations in the Council of Management and

before taking decisions, and sufficient opportunities were

given to the plaintiff to comply with the directions of the Stock

Exchange. He also submitted that due to the peculiar nature of

the business in the Stock Exchange the payments and

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obligations of the members have to be complied with as per

the provisions of the bye-law and the Memorandum of Articles

of Association. From Ext.A17 it is clear that the plaintiff was

given sufficient opportunity to comply with the directions

which the plaintiff was bound to comply. Ext.A17 shows that

the defendant informed that the plaintiff is at liberty to apply

for re-admission as a member and that proceedings were

initiated by the defendant in good faith for the proper

administration of the defendant-Stock Exchange. Specific

instances of granting opportunities to the plaintiff to discharge

the obligations under Exts.A1 and A2 are set out in Ext.A17.

In point No.7 of Ext.A17 it is stated that the Stock Exchange

had requested the plaintiff to settle the disputes that had arisen

between the plaintiff and Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Chandran. The

request was made vide letter dated 9/12/1987 on a complaint

received from M/s.Choksey Bhargava & Co., Calcutta. In

point No.3 there is a reference to the letter dated 8th October,

1987 issued by the Stock Exchange directing the plaintiff to

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furnish details of the illegal clandestine transactions done with

Mr. T.K. Joy. In point No.1 there is reference to the notices

dated September 23, 1987 and October 10, 1987 calling upon

the plaintiff to make payment stating that he has deliberately

failed to make payment for settlement No.1. Again in point

No.6 there is also a reference to the letter dated September 28,

1987 by which the plaintiff was called upon to furnish details

of transactions for settlement No.1 and letter dated November

16, 1987 requesting him to deliver all the pending deliveries on

November 20, 1987. In point No.11 there is a further reference

to the letter dated October 17, 1987 calling upon the plaintiff to

furnish statements of accounts with the following members,

namely, M/s.Kolenchery & Co., M/s.Joy Mathew & Co. and

M/s.Joseph & Thomas.

15. The Lower Appellate Court mainly for two

reasons reversed the findings of the trial court. The learned

Judge held that the proceedings are not in accordance with the

bye-law and articles of association, that it offends the

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principles of natural justice and that the proceedings were

taken not in good faith. The learned District Judge observed

that the only notice which was sent to the plaintiff by the

defendant-Stock Exchange before the plaintiff was declared as

a defaulter, is Ext.A14 dated 11/12/1987. In paragraph 14 I

have referred to various notices issued to the plaintiff which

are mentioned in Ext.A17 proceedings. The learned Judge

proceeded on the basis that the Stock Exchange issued only

one notice i.e. Ext.A14 dated 11/12/1987 which relates to only

one engagement. The learned Judge was wrong in holding so.

The learned judge failed to take note of the fact that several

communications were issued calling upon him to discharge the

obligations and duties which I have referred in paragraph 5. a

Therefore, the finding of the learned Judge that 10 out of 11

reasons to support the action taken by the defendant-Stock

Exchange were communicated to the plaintiff, only after the

resolution to declare the plaintiff as a defaulter was passed by

the Council of Management, is factually wrong. The learned

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Judge held that in the face of the evidence it cannot be said that

as per Ext.A14 notice a well-defined ground was conveyed to

the plaintiff so as to justify the action under Regulation 312(i)

of Ext.A1 bye-law. The learned Judge also held that even

assuming that the ground mentioned in Ext.A14 has been

substantiated on the admission of DW1 himself it involves

only one act of default and cannot constitute a ground under

Clause (i) of bye-law 312 which contemplates plurality of

default. The learned Judge found that Ext.A14 involves only

one act of default; but the learned Judge failed to consider the

fact that the action was taken against the plaintiff finding that

he has committed plurality of default. Ext.A17 contains 11

grounds for the action taken under Regulation 312 of the bye-

law. Therefore, the finding of the Lower Appellate Court that

action was taken for the commission of single default, is

factually wrong. The learned Judge failed to examine the

evidence on record which shows that the plaintiff has

committed plurality of defaults inviting action under

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Regulation 312 of the bye-law. Therefore, the further finding

of the Lower Appellate Court that the decision taken by the

Council of Management of the defendant-Stock Exchange on

21/12/1987 declaring the plaintiff as a defaulter had thus

offended one of the cardinal principles of natural justice, is

also equally wrong and therefore liable to be interfered with. I

have set out in detail the plaintiff’s failure on several occasions

including the default narrated in Ext.A14 notice. The Lower

Appellate Court did not consider and appreciate the evidence

adduced by the parties in the right perspective. The Lower

Appellate Court only elicited some portions of the evidence

mainly Ext.A14 notice and held that it constitutes only one act

of default and that action under Clause (i) of Regulation 312

of the bye-law contemplates plurality of default.

16. The learned counsel for the respondent cited the

decisions reported in Dhulabhai v. State of Madhya Pradesh

and another (AIR 1969 SC 78), United India Insurance Co.

Ltd. v. Ajay Sinha and another ((2008) 7 SCC 454), Sahara

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India (Firm), Lucknow v. Commissioner of Income Tax,

Central-1 and another (((2008) 14 SCC 151), Charan Lal

Sahu v. Union of India (AIR 1990 SC 1480),

ASST.Commissioner, Anti-evasion Commercial Taxes,

Bharatpur v. Amtek India Ltd. ((2007) II SCC 407),

Brijendra Singh v. State of U.P. and others (AIR 1981 SC

636) Agricultural Income Tax Officer v. Thankamma

Parameswaran (1986 KLT 416) and contended that the

principles of natural justice is violated. I do not think that the

decisions cited above are applicable to the facts of this case.

17. I have in detail stated the opportunities afforded

by the stock exchange to the plaintiff to fulfil the obligations

under the bye-law and Memorandum of Articles of

Association. The case was considered by the courts below and

this Court on merits. The question as to whether the civil court

has jurisdiction or not does not arise for consideration. This

Court finds that the action taken by the stock exchange is in

good faith and therefore, the decision of the Supreme Court in

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Dhulabhai v. State of Madhya Pradesh and another (AIR

1969 SC 78) was pressed into service. The learned counsel for

the plaintiff/respondent cited the said decision wherein the

principles regarding the exclusion of jurisdiction of the

civil court are laid down. According to the learned counsel,

the civil court has got jurisdiction to decide the question. The

civil court has decided all the issues raised by the plaintiff in

the case on merits. I do not think that there is any relevance to

go into the principles laid down by the Apex Court in that

decision at this stage for the aforesaid reason. Section 29 of the

Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 prohibits suit,

prosecution or other legal proceeding whatsoever shall lie in

any Court against the governing body or any member, office-

bearer or servant of any recognised stock exchange or against

any person or persons appointed under sub-section (1) of

Section 11 for anything which is in good faith done or intended

to be done in pursuance of this Act or of any rules or by-laws

made thereunder. The trial court as well as this Court on facts

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held that the proceedings initiated by the Stock Exchange is in

good faith and therefore, according to the learned counsel for

the appellant, the suit itself is not maintainable. This Court

entered the finding regarding good faith in favour of the Stock

Exchange. The court below proceeded to consider all the

issues on merits as well. In fact, this Court as well as the

Lower Appellate Court decided the matter on merits apart from

the question of good faith and therefore the bar of jurisdiction

has no much relevance at this stage.

` 18. The learned counsel for the appellant cited the

decisions reported in Rajendra Roy v. Union of India and

another ((1993) 1 SCC 148) and Vinay bubna v. Stock

Exchange, Mumbai and others (1996) 6 SCC 215). The

Apex Court, after considering all the relevant aspects including

the by-law and Memorandum of Articles of Association of the

Mumbai Stock Exchange, held that membership of the Stock

Exchange is a personal permission from the Exchange to

exercise the rights and privileges attached thereto, subject to

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the rules bye-laws and regulations of the Exchange. The Apex

Court further held that a member is declared as a defaulter, if

he fails to meet his obligation, and the rules further show that

thereafter his right of membership and nomination ceases and

vests in the exchange and belongs to the exchange. The learned

counsel also brought to my notice the decision reported in

Rajendra Roy v. Union of India and another ((1993) 1 SCC

148). In the said decision the Apex Court held that inference

of mala fides must be based on firm foundation of facts

pleaded and established and not merely on insinuations and

vague allegations. According to the learned counsel, the

allegations in the plaint are vague and without firm

foundations. The judgment and decree passed by the Lower

Appellate Court require interference.

In the result, the appeal is allowed. The judgment

and decree passed by the Lower Appellate Court are set aside

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and the judgment and decree passed by the trial court are

restored. No order as to costs.

HARUN-UL-RASHID,
JUDGE.

kcv.

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