Subhiksha stores' founder convicted for filing repeated cases against Azim Premji

In 2021, another bench of the Karnataka HC had fined Subramanian and his associate Rs 10 lakh for filing multiple frivolous complaints against Azim Premji and others.
Azim Premji speaking at an event
Azim Premji speaking at an event
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R Subramanian, formerly the founder of retail outlet chain Subhiksha, has been sentenced to two months' simple imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 2,000. Subramanian and his associate, representatives of India Awake for Transparency, were convicted for contempt of court by the Karnataka High Court for filing frivolous cases against Wipro Limited founder and chairman Azim Premji, between April 2016 and December 2020.

Subhiksha once had over 2,000 stores across the country, before the chain collapsed in 2009. A few months before the chain’s collapse, Azim Premji had bought a 10% stake in Subhiksha in 2008  through his personal investment arm. Things later went sideways as Subhiksha struggled to operate its stores and reportedly defaulted on vendor payments. According to reports, Azim Premji had then said that “investing in Subhiksha was a mistake and a lot of money has been siphoned off”. Subramanian has faced several cases since then, and has also slapped several on Azim Premji. In 2013, Subramanian even filed a Rs 500 crore defamation suit on Premji.

Last week, the Karnataka High Court sentenced Subramanian and his associate, P Sadanand, to undergo simple imprisonment for two months with a fine of Rs 2,000 each, failing which they would have to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of one month. The two have also been restrained from initiating any legal proceedings against the complainants and their group of companies before any court, tribunal, authority or forum by the High Court order, passed by a bench of Justices B Veerappa and KS Hemaleka.

The conviction came after the two reportedly did not drop the proceedings. The HC order said, “You, in spite of dismissal of all writ petitions on the same cause of action and despite of warning and prohibition by the orders of the court, filed several cases and continued the proceedings and your conduct is nothing but a daring ride on the court and you have made a mockery of the judicial process by filing one or the other frivolous legal proceedings, not only affecting the interest of public at large, but also interfering with the administration of justice by misusing the forum of various courts, wasting judicial time and abusing the process of law.”

Further, the order noted that in all these cases, R Subramanian appeared as an advocate and India Awake for Transparency was nothing but a shell company. “All these indisputable facts on record make it abundantly clear that accused No.2-R.Subramanian is the Alter Ego of 'India Awake for Transparency', that 'India Awake for Transparency' is only a corporate facade used by accused No.2 and that all the legal proceedings filed in the name of 'India Awake for Transparency' are at his behest and instance and are financed and controlled by him, as he is the 'directing mind' of 'India Awake for Transparency’ (sic),” the HC order noted.

In February 2021, another bench of the Karnataka High Court had punished India Awake for Transparency with a fine of Rs 10 lakh for filing multiple frivolous complaints against Azim Premji and other Wipro senior management officials.

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