The ecommerce company that runs AskMe Bazaar, AskMe Grocery and Mebelkart shut down its shops 2 weeks back owing to financial woes. While the company maintains that the root cause of this problem is its main investor Astro Holding’s (owns 98.5% of the company) refusal to honour its commitment, employees and sellers feel that AskMe can’t refuse responsibility. They continue to protest outside AskMe’s office in a bid to extract pending dues.
Sellers approach EOW, Getit files petition against Astro
When it became clear that a simple dialogue between sellers/employees and AskMe is not going to bring any satisfactory results, all the parties reached out to government bodies/officials.
AskMe Bazaar sellers headed to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police last week to file a case against the etailer.
In a written complaint, the vendors listed down names of Getit and Astro’s top managers and wrote,
“The above named persons have willfully deceived and cheated us by first receiving our services and then refusing to pay our dues after making various assurances and commitments.”
Sellers have also reached out to political leaders Nirmala Sitharaman, Subramanian Swamy, Shashi Tharoor and many others to press the government to make AskMe pay its employees and vendors.
Meanwhile, minority shareholder and MD of Getit Infoservices, Sanjiv Gupta filed a petition against Astro under Section 241 (1) (b) of the Companies Act.
“The company owes at least Rs.300 crore to creditors. If Astro exits, then the dues must be cleared first,” said Gupta’s lawyer Vipul Ganda.
The outrage has worked. For now.
The barrage of tweets by vendors and employees compelled Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy to write a letter to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) regarding closure of AskMe.
“I urge you to intervene and ask the Director of the askme.com/Getit Infoservices not to proceed with winding up of their company and throw out of work about 4,000 employees,” wrote Swamy.
And the latest development due to this outrage is that The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has instructed Astro Entertainment Networks Ltd not to pull out from ecommerce firm AskMe for six weeks. This order was passed in response to Gupta’s petition.
According to the judicial body, the immediate effect has to be that Astro can’t leave before clearing its dues and it can’t shut down AskMe Bazaar, AskMe Grocery and Mebelkart.
“No board meeting can be held in six weeks without prior permission of the court,” the tribunal ordered.
The next hearing is scheduled on 17th October.
Last when we checked, AskMeBazaar’s website is still down, while Mebelkart and AskMeGrocery are still operational.
Will the tribunal’s ruling help AskMe employees and sellers to get their money? Will Getit’s ecommerce firm get a new lease of life? Please share your views in the comments.