The government on Friday promulgated an ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) whereby fresh insolvency proceedings will not be initiated for at least six months starting from March 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Default on repayments from March 25, the day when the nationwide lockdown began to curb COVID-19 infections, would not be considered for initiating insolvency the proceedings for at least six months. The move may is expected to provide relief for corporates as the pandemic and subsequent lockdown had significantly impacted economic activities.

Insolvency proceedings would not be initiated for “any default arising on or after March 25, 2020 for a period of six months or such further period, not exceeding one year from such date, as may be notified in this behalf,” the ordinance said.

”… no application shall ever be filed for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process of a corporate debtor for the said default occuring during the said period,” it said.

Initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process has been suspended for the given time. Three sections under the Code — 7, 9 and 10 — would not be applicable for the six-month period.

In this regard, a new section ‘10A’ has been inserted in the IBC.

While sections 7 and 9 provide for initiation of insolvency proceedings by financial creditors and operational creditors, respectively, section 10 pertains to corporate applicants.

Under the IBC, an entity can seek insolvency proceedings against a company even if the repayment is delayed by just one day. This is subject to the minimum threshold of ₹1 crore. Earlier, the threshold was ₹1 lakh.

On May 17, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would provide various relaxations under the insolvency law, including suspending fresh proceedings for up to one year.

“After all, when lockdown gets lifted immediately, you are not sure how much of the businesses will get restored… No fresh insolvency proceedings will be initiated for up to one year,” she had said.

The measures were announced as part of the fifth and final tranche of the over ₹20 lakh crore stimulus package that was unveiled to boost the economy ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

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