A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea has been moved in the Gujarat High Court seeking a direction for filling up posts of Presiding Officer in the Debt Recovery Tribunal-I, Ahmedabad in terms of Section 4 of the Recovery of Debt and Bankruptcy Act, 1993.
Hearing the matter on Thursday the bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J. Shastri issued the notice to the Centre and directed it to file a reply by June 10, 2022.
Debt Recovery Tribunal in Ahmedabad has two benches, but only one Presiding Officer (meant for Bench-II) was available till now. Till March 31, 2021, the work of DRT-I was also taken care of by the PO of DRT-II, however thereafter no new appointment was done and the additional charge was not extended, which resulted in vacancy.
Stating that the DRT-I, Ahmedabad has been vacant and headless from April 1, 2022, the PIL plea avers that the vacancy is seriously impinging on the rights of litigating citizens whose cases are pending before the Debts Recovery Tribunal — I, at Ahmedabad, and their right to have access to justice is being compromised.
"The vacancy of the post of Presiding officer, DRT-I at Ahmedabad violates Article 14 of the Constitution as the litigants before same territorial jurisdiction are being treated differently as the other bench DRT-II is functional and has Presiding Officer. The litigants cannot be treated differently even when they are identically placed. The fundamental rights Of the litigants that is lenders- banks/financial institutions and borrowers are violated. The right to justice and speedy justice are enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of India," the PIL states.
A similar plea was moved by the petitioner Nipun Praveen Singhvi earlier in January before the HC sought a direction for filling up posts of Presiding Officer in the Debt Recovery Tribunal-I, Ahmedabad. The petition has been filed through advocates Vishal J Dave and Hiral U Mehta.
This plea was disposed of by the High Court on February 4, 2022, in view of the Centre's notification giving additional charge of DRT-I, Ahmedabad to the presiding officer of DRT-II till March 31, 2022, or till the permanent appointment of a member is made.
However, since no appointment was made and even the term of the PO was not extended, the vacancy arose on April 1, 2022. Therefore, the petitioner has now moved the instant plea.
Agaisnt this backdrop, the instant plea prays for the following relief:
- Pass a direction to the Union of India to appoint a full-time Presiding Officer in Debt Recovery Tribunal-I, Ahmedabad ;
- Pending admission, hearing, and final disposal of this Petition, a direction be issued to the UOI to issue a notification asking the PO of DRT-II to manage and handle the work of DRT-I, Ahmedabad, till a final and permanent appointment is made by the Respondent.
Case title - Nipun Praveen Singhvi v. Union Of India Case