Punj in court for not paying small contractors

Vol 19, PW 7 (03 Dec 15) People & Policy

Punj Lloyd has been dragged to court by Vizag-based support vessels provider Marine Plus, which accuses it of trying to wriggle out of paying bills to small contractors.

Justice Sudershan Kumar Misra of the Delhi High Court issued a ‘show cause’ notice to Punj on October 14 following a winding up petition filed by Marine Plus. Justice Misra gave Punj until the next hearing on February 23, 2016 to respond explaining why it should not be dissolved.

“We had no choice but to file a case against Punj to recover our money," says Marine Plus COO Sanjeev Gupta. At issue is utility vessel Sai Vaishnavi which Marine Plus supplied to Punj Lloyd in August 2012.

At the time Punj was working off Yanam near Kakinada laying a subsea pipeline for GSPC. "The assignment went on till May 2014," adds Gupta.

"After the job Punj e-mailed us confirming work was done satisfactorily.” But Gupta's troubles began when he raised an invoice for Rs53 Lakh ($79,000) for work carried out.

"I wrote many e-mails asking Punj to pay but there was no reply," he alleges. "Punj kept saying payment is 'under process' then stopped taking my calls.

" Gupta says the court agreed to hear his petition because of several other legal actions against Punj. During proceedings the court heard a letter dated March 4, 2015 from Punj to Marine Plus acknowledging it owes the company Rs50.65 Lakh ($76,000).