Is Finance Ministry sleeping, asks HC

Court displeasure over DRT functioning

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday expressed displeasure over the non-functioning of the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for over a month, and asked if the “Finance Ministry is sleeping”.

A Division Bbench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla was hearing a petition filed by the DRT Bar Association that comprises 700 practising advocates. The plea said that on June 1, 2018, a short circuit resulted in a fire on the third floor of Scindia House, Ballard Estate, Mumbai and spread to the higher floors including the fifth and sixth floors, where the DRT and the DR Appellate Tribunal are located.

The Fire Brigade took timely steps to control the flames but temporarily shut access to the building. However, access to the building is still shut as the building is under repair. As a result, the functioning of the DRT offices has ceased. The plea has pointed out that the Ministry of Finance is not taking any action in terms of providing alternate infrastructure, and sought directions from the court for permanent or temporary courtrooms.

Senior counsel Shreehari Aney, appearing for the DRT Bar Association, pointed out the difficulties arising out of the non-availability of space. Senior counsel Shyam Mehta, representing the Finance Ministry, said it was considering the MTNL building at Colaba and asked for a week's time to get back on this.

The court said while Mumbai was considered the country’s financial capital, the DRT, which dealt with debt-recovery cases involving banks, financial institutions and their customers, was non-functional for over a month. The court observed, “The government should be doing all this on their own, instead of the issue coming before us and the court passing orders. In the financial capital of the country, the Debts Recovery Tribunal is not functioning... is the finance ministry sleeping?”

The court adjourned the matter to July 25 for the ministry to inform it about its decision, failing which the court will issue directions.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:30:32 PM |

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