The High Court on Thursday quashed a case against a former non-executive director of Home Trade, the disgraced ‘financial services’ company that owes Sachin Tendulkar `2.2 crore for endorsing its products.
The court suggested legal action be initiated against the company’s executive directors, and not professionals who had been associated with it in a non-executive capacity.
For the past 11 years, the cricketing icon has been fighting a legal battle in Bangalore to collect his endorsement fee dues.
In 2002, his agents, Bangalore-based Worldtel Sports, filed a case in a Bangalore court against the directors of Home Trade after two cheques issued to Sachin bounced.
On July 13, 2000, Home Trade and Tendulkar had entered into an agreement which expired on October 11, 2001. They then entered into another agreement on October 12, 2001, in which Tendulkar granted permission to the company to continue using his endorsements for a further year. The cricketer also offered to “act as a model” for the promotion of their products.
After accepting the grant of rights by Tendulkar, Home Trade agreed to pay him `4 crore, but two cheques, for `1.11 crore each, bounced.
When Tendulkar tried to contact the Home Trade top brass, they allegedly evaded him. His lawyers then sent notices to Home Trade Chaiman Sanjay Agarwal, Executive Director N S Trivedi and seven other directors, but the letters came back with the postal message ‘Not claimed. Return to sender’.
A magistrate court then initiated criminal proceedings against the directors. Manoj Shah, one of the directors, had filed a petition in the High Court, saying he had worked for the company in a non-executive, advisory capacity.
The court ruled on Thursday that action should be initiated against the top management of Home Trade, and not against non-executive directors.
Home Trade had spent `20 crore on a launch blitz featuring celebrities like Tendulkar, Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan. Within two years, the company collapsed after allegedly duping 20 co-operative banks.
Sanjay Agarwal allegedly took `400 crore from the banks to buy government securities on their behalf, and failed to hand over the gilts to them. Agarwal and Executive Trivedi continue to elude the police.