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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

“The Debt Relief Scheme, 2008 is undoubtedly a welfare measure and announced in order to give relief to the farmers those who availed loans prior to 31-03-07 even by reconstructing and rescheduling in the year 2004 and 2006. The significance was attached to those cut off dates as fixed in guidelines in respect of its disbursal, over due and remains unpaid. The gap in between the period of disbursal and over due is nine months only. If the contention of the learned counsel for opposite party is accepted that one year period has to be computed from the date of sanction of loan, the loans disbursed in the month of January, February or March, 2007 could not be overdue by 31-12-07. If that is the position, why cut off date was given in the guideline as 31-12-07. Being a beneficial legislation a liberal approach can be made in applying those guidelines as rightly contended by the learned counsel for the complainant. Therefore, we opine that the complainant is entitled to the benefits of loan waiver scheme and its non application amounted to deficiency of service.”


NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
NEW DELHI

REVISION PETITION NO. 1707 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 27.01.2012 in Appeal No.174/2011 of the State Commission, Andhra Pradesh)

Andhra Bank,
Prathipadu Village & Mandal,
Guntur District,
Andrha Pradesh                                                                                                                                              ……….Petitioner

Versus
Vajrala Venkata Reddy,
S/o Tirupathi Reddy,
Agriculturist,
R/o Patamallayapalem Village,
Parathipadu Mandal & Post,
Guntur District,
Andhra Pradesh                                                        .....Respondent   


REVISION PETITION NO. 1708 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 27.01.2012 in Appeal No.175/2011 of the State Commission, Andhra Pradesh)


Andhra Bank,
Prathipadu Village & Mandal,
Guntur District,
Andrha Pradesh                                                                                                                                           ……….Petitioner

Versus
Chennuboina Srinivasa Rao
S/o Venkateswarlu,
Agriculturist,
R/o Parathipadu Mandal & Post,
Guntur District,
Andhra Pradesh                                                                                                                                              .....Respondent 

REVISION PETITION NO. 1709 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 27.01.2012 in Appeal No.176/2011 of the State Commission, Andhra Pradesh)

Andhra Bank,
Prathipadu Village & Mandal,
Guntur District,
Andrha Pradesh                                                                                                                                         ……….Petitioner
Versus
Shaik Abdul Vahab,
S/o Abdul Jani,
Agriculturist,
R/o Parathipadu Mandal & Post,
Guntur District,
Andhra Pradesh                                                                                                                                          .....Respondent   

BEFORE
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE  J. M. MALIK,
                              PRESIDING MEMBER
HON’BLE MR. VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER

For the Petitioner             :     Mr. R. P. Vats, Advocate with
                                                Ms Reema, Advocate
                                       
For the Respondent       :      Mr. B. S. Sai, Advocate


PRONOUNCED ON:03.01.2013.

ORDER

PER MR.VINAY KUMAR, MEMBER

These three revision petitions have been filed by Andhra Bank against three separate orders of the Andhra Pradesh State Consumer Disputes RedressalCommission in distinct appeals.  Although, the details of loan transaction are distinct in each case, the issue involved in all the three cases is identical.  The three revisions are therefore taken up together for consideration in this common order. 

2.      In all the three cases gold loans for agricultural purposes were taken on different dates in the month of March 2007.  The respective loan amounts were Rs.49,000/-, Rs.60,000/- and Rs.27,600/-.  In the year 2008, the Central Government announced a scheme for waiver of all agricultural loans and gold loans within the relevant guidelines.  The case of the Complainants was not considered by the OP/Andhra Bank.  The latter allegedly tried to auction the gold ornaments pledged for the loan.  Therefore, a consumer complaint was filed before the District Consumer Forum, Guntur.  The District Forum, rejected the contention of OP/Andhra Bank that as per condition no.5 of the loan agreement signed by the borrower, the loan was repayable with interest within one year from the date of sanction and therefore, the Complainant was not eligible for benefit of waiver under the Central Government Scheme.  The District Forum, allowed the Complaint with the following order:-
“The Debt Relief Scheme, 2008 is undoubtedly a welfare measure and announced in order to give relief to the farmers those who availed loans prior to 31-03-07 even by reconstructing and rescheduling in the year 2004 and 2006.  The significance was attached to those cut off dates as fixed in guidelines in respect of its disbursal, over due and remains unpaid.  The gap in between the period of disbursal and over due is nine months only.  If the contention of the learned counsel for opposite party is accepted that one year period has to be computed from the date of sanction of loan, the loans disbursed in the month of January, February or March, 2007 could not be overdue by 31-12-07.  If that is the position, why cut off date was given in the guideline as 31-12-07.  Being a beneficial legislation a liberal approach can be made in applying those guidelines as rightly contended by the learned counsel for the complainant.  Therefore, we opine that the complainant is entitled to the benefits of loan waiver scheme and its non application amounted to deficiency of service.”

3.      The appeal of Andhra Bank has been dismissed in the impugned order by the Andhra Pradesh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.  The State Commission has gone into the details of the eligibility criteria as contained in Section 4 of the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme 2008. The Clause relevant to the case of the Complainant reads as follows:-
“4.1   The amount eligible for debt waiver or debt relief, as the case may be (hereinafter referred to as the ‘eligible amount’), shall comprise of :
(a)     In the case of a short-term production loan, the amount of such loan (together with applicable interest):
(i)      disbursed up to March 31, 2007 and overdue as on December 31, 2007 and remaining unpaid until February 29, 2008.”

In this context the State Commission has observed that the loan was admittedly disbursed before 31.3.2007.  Referring to the stipulation to the Condition no.5 in the loan agreement, the State Commission has observed that what is prescribed as period for repayment of loan has no role to play in the field where guidelines were framed by Central Government under a welfare scheme for the farmers, on account of poverty and drought.

4.      We have carefully considered the records, as filed by the two parties and heard Mr. R.P. Vats, Advocate for the revision petitioner/Andhra Bank and Mr.B.S. Sai, Advocate for the respondents/Complainants.  Learned counsel for the revision petitioner argued that the eligibility criteria as laid down in Clause 4.1 (a) (i) prescribed three requirements. He agreed that the first is met in all the three cases, as the respective loans were sanctioned/disbursed in March, 2007, but argued that the second condition was not met.   In this regard, he drew our attention to Clause 5 in the ‘Declarations of the applicant’, in the loan application cum sanction document. It states:-
“I undertake to repay the loan amount together with interest at 9.5% p.a. with monthly/quarterly rests, appraising charges and other bank charges within one year from the date of sanction or demand from the bank.”
According to learned counsel, in these cases neither the period of one year was over nor any demand for repayment had been raised by the Bank. Therefore, the loans cannot be considered ‘overdue as on 31.12.2007’.  The inherent fallacy of this argument is apparent.  Its acceptance would mean that all such loans which were disbursed by the OP within a period of one year ending 31.12.2007, would fall beyond consideration under the Government of India Scheme  2008, on the ground of not being overdue. But, loans disbursed upto 31.3.2007 are specifically made eligible for consideration under the scheme. Therefore, we reject this contention and hold that it has rightly been rejected by the State Commission as well as the District Forum.

5.      The sole argument pursued in the revision petition is inconsistency of approach in the State Commission. It is alleged that in two similar appeals, the appeal of the Bank has been allowed.  We do not wish to delve any further into it, as each case stand on its own facts.  In the result, we find no merit in these revision petitions and the same are dismissed as such. No orders as to costs. 
.……………Sd./-……………
(J. M. MALIK, J.)
PRESIDING MEMBER

…………Sd./-……………….
                                                                                                                                                   (VINAY KUMAR)                                                                                                                                                                                     MEMBER
s./-



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