Mr. Harish Salve’s Alter Ego

Sir Salve and Sir Nariman argued on behalf of Sunil Bharti Mittal recently. It is to Mr. Harish Salve’s credit that his “neat submission” on ‘alter egos’ was accepted.

A Man is the Alter Ego of the Company. Sir Salve submitted that the “principle of ‘alter ego’ has always been applied in reverse”. It is not the Company that leads to the Man (ego to alter ego). The Man leads to the Company (alter ego to ego). “The acts of individual, who is in control of the affairs of a company and is a directing mind, are attributed to the company” – however – “it has never been a case where for the act of the company, an individual is made accused, unless there is a categorical provision in the statute making such a person vicariously liable or there is enough material to attribute the alleged acts of criminality to the said person”.

The SC held “in the present case..the principle is applied.. exactly reverse.

The principle is ‘reverse alter ego’.

The scenario in the present case was thus reverse, ‘reverse alter ego‘, which was held “difficult” to accept as correct.

We remember, Kettlewell, AIR 1965 SC 65 that discussed a “managing agent as an alter ego of the managed company with authority to utilize the existing structure of the company’s organization.” Hon’ble Justice S.M. Sikri, as he was then, was on that Bench. Time and destiny finds Hon’ble Justice A.K. Sikri walking a further step. Cosmic Symmetry.

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