Five Supreme Court Justices have unanimously dismissed an application by Bank of Uganda to amend its appeal in which it challenges a ruling by the appellant court in favor of former owner of Crane Bank and Meera Investments ltd
If successful, the amendment would have reversed the several losses the Central Bank has suffered at the hands of businessman Dr Sudhir Ruparelia and his company Meera Investments Ltd.
The 5 justices, Rubby Opio-Aweri, Faith Mwondha, Dr Lillian Tibatemwa, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Percy Night Tuhaise in unison dismissed BoU’s bid to substitute Crane Bank in Receivership with Crane Bank in Liquidation a move the justices said would fundamentally alter the facts the case and deny both Dr. Sudhir and Meera a chance at justice.
This latest application to switch parties emanates from the 20th of October 2016 statutory takeover of Crane Bank Limited under the Financial Institutions Act and subsequently placed it under receivership on 20th January 2017, before selling its assets and liabilities to dfcu Bank on the 25th of January 2017.
Thereafter Bank of Uganda, through Crane Bank in Receivership sued Sudhir Ruparelia, one of the Shareholders of the bank, together with Meera Investments Ltd
Before the main case could be heard, Dr Sudhir and Meera, raised preliminary objections through the High court in which they argued that Crane Bank in Receivership had no basis for suing since the law did not allow a company in receivership any powers to sue or be sued.
The High Court sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed the case Bank of Uganda and ordered it to the costs of the suit to Sudhir Ruparelia.
Dissatisfied with the High Court ruling, Crane Bank Limited in Receivership filed an appeal, but the appellate court maintained that a company under receivership can’t sue or be sued.
Crane Bank Limited in receivership then appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Supreme Court, which is pending resolution.
To stop Dr Sudhir and Meera Investments from enforcing the ruling of the Court of Appeal to regain their company, Crane Bank Limited in Receivership also filed Supreme Court application against Sudhir Ruparelia which was dismissed.
Following this court defeat of the Bank of Uganda on 15th November 2020, BOU issued a public notice in the Sunday Vision newspaper to the effect that it had placed Crane Bank Limited under liquidation and ordered the winding up of its affairs. Dr Sudhir Ruparelia then filed Supreme Court Miscellaneous Application Nos. 39 and 40 of 2020 against Crane Bank Limited in Receivership and BOU seeking interim and temporary injunctions respectively to stop BOU from continuing with the liquidation process. However, the court also dismissed this application on 22nd December 2020.
Following this ruling, Bank of Uganda, this time, through Crane Bank (In Liquidation) went to the Supreme Court asking to switch itself with Crane Bank Limited in receivership as the substantive party in the Supreme Court Appeal a move that the five justices have now dismissed saying it was a move in bad faith and an attempt to circumvent the main issue in the appeal- which is whether a company in receivership can sue or be sued.
The justices also ruled that the very nature of the amendment sought by BoU would fundamentally change and alter the facts of the main appeal.
They also ruled that the Bank of Uganda’s latest application was in bad faith since it was made with the full knowledge that it would impact the main appeal.