Despite NPA Bill, Delhi DRTs Fail To Gain Momentum

New Delhi, November 28: | Updated: Nov 29 2002, 05:30am hrs
Even as creditor institutions rejoice over the securitisation ordinance crossing the Parliamentary hurdle, work on recovery of dues through debt recovery tribunals (DRTs) in the Capital has almost ground to a halt.

While presiding officer of DRT-2 SN Aggarwal has reverted to his judicial cadre, AK Pathak of DRT-1 has sent in his resignation, citing personal reasons, and will leave next month. Between them, these two DRTs handle the bulk of high-value recovery cases being adjudicated in the Delhi region, banking sources said.

Interestingly, the finance ministry has not initiated any action yet to fill the vacancies.

Officials says selection of presiding officers for some other states is going on, and in case any candidate is willing to take up station in Delhi, the matter can be settled rather early. However, if this does not happen, the process can take a few months, they concede. The procedure involves recommendation of names by high courts and ultimate approval from the Chief Justice of India.

According to the Indian Banks Association (IBA), there are a number of bottlenecks marring the recovery climate. These include poor infrastructure, short-duration appointments or of those close to retirement; insufficient staff; disparity between facilities as judicial officials and presiding officer; disruption of work owing to frequent or premature repatriation after deputation and unwillingness to adopt summary approach rather than the Civil Procedure Code.

It is understood that Mr Pathak is still holding court and attending to all matters of DRT-1. Meanwhile, the presiding officer of DRT-3, Meena V Gombar, is taking care of the matters of both DRT-3 and 2. Of the DRT-2 matters, Ms Gombar is taking up only the fresh matters while simply giving dates in the old cases, court sources say.

The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 itself says all matters should be disposed of within six months. Even the Supreme Court has said cases pending before the DRTs should be disposed of within six months and summary procedures should be adopted. Now, if the post of the presiding officer, who is the head of the DRT, lies vacant, how can the cases be disposed of as per the intention of the legislature and the apex court asks Chandra Shekhar, an advocate practising in DRTs.

Pointing out that DRT-2 has only one recovery officer as against the usual two, he says a result execution of the orders is also suffering.