Thursday, December 5, 2013

‘No harm in shaming defaulters of bank loans’

HC refuses to stop publication of photographs of directors of a company who failed to repay bank loan
The Bombay high court has refused to stop the publication of photographs of directors of a private company which has defaulted on the repayment of Rs53 crore.

“In our view there would be no impediment of publication of photos of the defaulters. There is no legal bar which expressly prohibits the bank from publishing photos,” a division bench of judges VM Kanade and MS Sonak stated in their order on Thursday.
The company, DJ Exim and its directors had challenged a notice from the State Bank of India (SBI) in October that it would publish photographs of the directors in national newspapers if it did not repay the loan amount.

The company submitted to the high court that no rule permits banks to publish photos. “They cannot embarrass the defaulters like this. According to the rule only name and address can be published,” the advocates for the company argued.

But counsel for SBI Aspi Chinoy said that the company had defaulted on repayment of Rs53 crore. “This is not disputed. They are admitted defaulters. We are only stating this fact to the public,” the advocate said and added that the bank does not resort to such stringent measures in each and every case.

Accepting the bank’s argument, the judges observed that by publishing the photographs of the defaulters along with their names served the purpose of creating awareness and cautioning prospective clients.
However, they directed that the decision to resort to such a measure should be taken by a very senior level official not below the rank of general manager of the bank. “In this case, due process was followed and the decision cannot be faulted,” the judges stated.

The court said that SBI’s earlier undertaking that it would not publish the photos pending hearing of the petition would continue for three more weeks, to enable the company to appeal in the apex court.
Mustafa Plumber @plumbermushi
Published Date:  Dec 03, 2013

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