BharatPe vs Ashneer Grover: Delhi HC Issues Notice and Summons to Ex-founder and His Family Members
Moneylife Digital Team 08 December 2022
The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice and summons to Ashneer Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover and his family members in a suit filed by BharatPe seeking, among other reliefs, orders to restrain them from making defamatory statements against the fin-tech company. 
According to a report from Bar&Bench, justice Navin Chawla gave Mr Grover, who is the co-founder and former managing director (MD) of BharatPe, and his wife Madhuri Jain and others, two weeks' time to file replies to the interim relief application filed by the company.
Months after Mr Grover and his wife were ousted from the company, over allegations of misappropriation of funds, BharatPe has initiated civil and criminal action against its erstwhile founder and his family members. 
BharatPe filed an interim relief application seeking disclosure of assets of Mr Grover and his family members and an interim injunction restraining them from making defamatory or derogatory statements about the fin-tech company, its directors, employees and/ or publicising it.
The application also seeks direction to Mr Grover and his family members to delete or remove within five days all statements, tweets, social media posts, books, re-tweets, hashtags, videos, press conferences, interviews, and comments, made against BharatPe.
The company sacked Madhuri Jain after the probe found misappropriation of funds during her time as head of controls, while Mr Grover quit as BharatPe accused him, his wife and their relatives of being engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds and grossly abusing company money to fund their lavish lifestyles.
BharatPe approached the HC months after Mr Grover and his wife were expelled from the company over allegations of misappropriation of funds.
In its suit, BharatPe has claimed damages worth Rs88.67 crore from the company founder, Ms Jain and his brother under various heads, including a claim for payment made against the invoices of non-existent vendors, a claim for penalty paid to goods and services tax (GST) authorities, payments made to vendors purportedly providing recruitment services, payments made to a furnishings company; payments for personal expenditures and damages for loss of reputation to the company caused by tweets and other statements made by them.
Meanwhile, BharatPe has asked the Grovers to repay company funds to the tune of Rs88.6 crore with 18% interest which they swindled via various modes like creating fictitious bills, inflated vendor payments and personal use, among others.
A company spokesperson told IANS, "BharatPe has initiated civil and criminal action against erstwhile Co-Founder and Managing Director, Ashneer Grover, former Head of Controls, Madhuri Jain Grover, and other connected parties of their family for various claims, including misappropriation of company funds."
"We have full faith in the courts and authorities and are confident that justice will be done. As the matter is sub judice, we have no further comment to offer at this stage," the spokesperson added.
The other parties in the BharatPe lawsuit are Deepak Jagdishram Gupta, who is Madhuri Jain's brother-in-law and worked as admin head and reported to Madhuri Jain.
According to earlier reports, Madhuri Jain herself received invoices for payments and forwarded them to the accounts team. These invoices were allegedly created by Shwetank Jain, who is her brother and Suresh Jain, her father, have also been named in the lawsuit.
Mr Grover had also initiated arbitration before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), claiming that BharatPe's investigations against him were illegal. However, in February, he lost the dispute and was sacked from the company days later.
The Ashneer Grover-BharatPe tussle, that hogged the limelight since January, has brought to the fore the need to fix corporate governance while maintaining moral integrity at the very top in the burgeoning Indian start-up ecosystem.
Last month, BharatPe was hit with a fresh wave of resignations at the top level, as its chief technology officer (CTO) Vijay Aggarwal and Rajat Jain, chief product officer (CPO), among others, quit the company. Apart from them, Nehul Malhotra, head of PostPe at the company, has also moved on.
While Mr Aggarwal, who joined BharatPe in March 2020, will start his own venture, Mr Jain and Mr Malhotra are also moving out to pursue their own entrepreneurial journey, the company said.
At mid-level, Geetanshu Singla, vice-president (VP) for technology and Manas Poddar, programme manager at BharatPe, have also quit.
During 2022, BharatPe saw several high-profile exits, including founding member Satyam Nathani, Mr Grover (who triggered a major controversy at the platform); chief revenue officer Nishit Sharma; and head of institutional debt partnerships Chandrima Dhar, among others.
In August, the fin-tech platform appointed SBI Card's former chief financial officer (CFO), Nalin Negi, as its new CFO as it prepares for its initial public offering (IPO).
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