Recently, the single-headed bench of the Calcutta High Court comprising, Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya has set aside a complaint filed by Punjab National Bank (PNB) against a borrower.
The Court observed that the complaint against Vishambhar Saran, the petitioner, was based on his classification as a wilful defaulter according to the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) Master Circular dated July 1, 2015. However, the Court highlighted that this circular had been rescinded subsequently, rendering the complaint ineffective and lacking grounds for further action.
“Moreover, the complaint being made clearly within the contemplation of Clause 4.2(ii) of the Master Circular dated July 1, 2015, read with Chapter VI of the RBI Master Direction dated July 1, 2016, has been rendered infructuous in view of the declarations of wilful defaulter and fraud having been recalled/set aside before even the registration of the FIR”.
Advocate Sabyasachi Choudhury represented the Petitioner, while Senior Advocate Samrat Sen appeared on behalf of the Respondent/Bank, specifically Punjab National Bank (PNB)
In the said matter, the Petitioner faced a complaint and an FIR filed by Punjab National Bank (PNB) based on their previous classification as a wilful defaulter under the RBI Master Circular. The Petitioner challenged both the complaint and the subsequent FIR, arguing that the allegations were no longer valid due to subsequent events, such as the revocation of their wilful defaulter status and the reversal of the fraudulent account declaration.
However, despite these developments, the Respondent Bank (PNB) maintained the validity of the complaint and FIR. They cited an ongoing investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and pointed to allegations under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act to support their stance.
The Court, upon examination of the 2021 complaint, observed that its primary foundation rested solely on the Petitioner's classification as a wilful defaulter according to the RBI's master circular. The grounds mentioned in the complaint, such as alleged siphoning and diversion of funds, along with the purported loss to public money, were in line with the criteria outlined in the RBI Master Circular on Wilful Defaulters.
Furthermore, the Court observed that the entire cheating allegation against the Petitioner hinged on the siphoning and diversion of funds, justifying the CBI's involvement under the RBI Master Direction, 2016. However, the Court also observed that the bank's complaint rested entirely on the now-withdrawn wilful defaulter.
The Court, placing emphasis on the cause of action, underscored that the revocation of the wilful defaulter declaration was a crucial factor. Consequently, as of the FIR registration date none of the bank's allegations in the complaint held any validity.
The court also rejected the bank's contention that no legal right of the petitioner has been infringed.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the Petition and set aside the complaint lodged by PNB.
Case Title: Vishambhar Saran v Punjab National Bank
Website designed, developed and maintained by webexy