Observing that the Court cannot pass directions for financial relief, the Supreme Court on Friday disposed of a writ petition which sought financial relief in the form of fresh loan moratorium, extension of time period under the restructuring scheme and temporary cease on the declaration of NPA by the financial banks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A acation bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah observed that it is for the Government to assess the situation and take appropriate decisions.
The bench was considering a PIL petition filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari. The petitioner submitted that the second wave of pandemic has made at least 1 crore Indians jobless.
When the bench pointed out that the Reserve Bank of India has announced certain financial packages as per circular dated May 5, the petitioner replied that it was not sufficiently addressing the problems of ordinary middle-class families.
"These are all in the realm of executive policies. We cannot decide financial matters", Justice Bhushan said.
"The Government may have many pressing priorities. They have to spend money on vaccines, for migrants...", Justice Shah added.
The bench said that judges are not experts in the matter of economic policy matters. The bench also pointed out that in the judgment Small Scale Industrial Manufactures Association(Regd) v Union of India and connected cases, the Court had refused to order loan moratorium extension, and the same principles are applicable to the instant case as well.
"The financial reliefs and other measures are in the domain of government and relates to policy matter. We are of the view that no directions can be issued in this regard", the bench observed in the order.
"We observe that it is up to the Govt of India to assess the situation and take appropriate decisions", the bench added in the order.
When the petitioner requested that he may be permitted to submit a representation before the Government, the bench told him that it has not 'dismissed' the petition and has only 'disposed' it with an observation that it is for the Government to take the appropriate decisions.
The plea has been filed seeking the directions to take effective and remedial measures to redress and overcome the financial stress and hardship faced by the borrowers of the country during the Second wave of COVID19 and Lockdown.
The plea, filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari, has urged the Court to direct that no Bank or Financial Institution will take action for auction in respect of any property of any citizen or person or party or any Body corporate for a period of Six months. Further, no account should be declared as Non-performing Asset for a period of Six months.
The plea has also sought for directions to the Respondents to permit the lending institutions to grant interest free moratorium period for term loan and defer the payment of loan installments for a period of six months or till situation due to COVID-19 normalizes.
It has further been argued that the Central Government and its concerned ministries along with the Reserve Bank of India have failed to bring in any sound relief in this present situation for all those stressed sectors and individuals for whom sustenance and existence has been a question.
Further, the plea has stated that no monetary relief and packages hav been declared by the sovereign in this stressed time and people are under tremendous pressure to maintain the EMIs and is always under the threat of accounts being declared NPA.