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Loan moratorium: No benefit for small time traders who lost all, petitioners tell Supreme Court

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New Delhi (ILNS): As another day in the hearing of the loan moratorium case started, the Supreme Court said that it would hear the parties one by one. The main issues that came up were that the limited relief in waiving compound interest till Rs 2 crore was not enough in addressing the pain of the small time entrepreneurs who have lost all in the pandemic. There was also a suggestion that banks should stop overdraft facilities instead of going in for NPAs.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said: “Let the petitioners work out as per the mechanism, having regard to various factors and future contingencies. He said that the court need not intervene.

The bench of bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said that it will first hear the petitioners.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for CREDAI Mumbai, said that the government and the RBI have taken the position that everything has to be worked out according to a contract. “This means that whether there is a disaster or no disaster the provisions of the contract will prevail. If the bench does not protect them they will have no relief.”

Advocate Visalia Tiwari, appearing for one of the intervenors, said that loan moratorium should be extended to December 31, 2020 and pleaded that the common people should not be harassed by phone calls or through use of abusive language to make payments. He said that 12.2 crore people have lost jobs during the pandemic.

Another intervenor said that the Cibil score of people who had taken moratorium is getting affected. This, the court must look into. “Please waive the interest too,” says the counsel.

Yet another intervenor, who is a contract carriage operator, submitted that people who own small buses and carts were the first to be hit and will be the last to revive when economy gets back on track. He said that Atmabirbhar Bharat scheme will not be applicable to them.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Indian Banks’ Association, suggested that banks can follow normal rules of business. He said that people are drawing money from defunct accounts. He said the court must consider withdrawing order restraining banks from classifying accounts as NPAs. If not NPA, at least allow banks to stop overdraft facilities.

On the issue of NPAs, Advocate Manoj Garg submitted that the government should revisit the NPA categorisation and an extension of 90 days must be given. He further pleaded that a committee be formed which can assist the RBI in ensuring that the money reaches the right people.

Justice Shah observed that these were general submissions.

Garg said that he can give a better affidavit on rejection criteria that have been faced by his clients.

Justice Shah said that the bench cannot look into individual cases.

Garg submitted that the issue which he is pressing for before the bench was that there is no mechanism for implementing the scheme and redressing the grievances of borrowers.

Advocate Ravindra Srivastava, for the petitioners, submitted that the required action has not been taken as per the statutory law, which is the DMA of 2005. Also, there is no basis for pleading that there is financial constraints faced by the Centre.

Thirdly, he said, NDMA, which is the most powerful body, has been on record, saying that the measures taken by the Union of India is not adequate and a direction has been issued for taking appropriate measures, but nothing has been done till date.

He said that limiting relief to disaster affected persons only to the extent of waiver of compound interest is discriminatory, irrational and arbitrary.

The resolution proposal of the RBI of August 6 is not a measure under the DMA for alleviating the problems faced through Covid and is discriminatory and arbitrary it was said.

The issues are of direct violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 19.

Also Read: Chanda Kocchar withdraws plea from SC filed on behalf of her husband in money laundering case

The matter, hence, should not be closed and there is an imminent need to continue to issue continuous mandamus like that in the TN Godavaraman case.

Matter adjourned till Wednesday.

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