Tuesday, 23 May 2017

14 years, 380 hearings then CBI probe - SBI sells Siliguri resident crores property to recover 9.75 lakhs

Akhil Bandhu Saha was a well-to-do businessman from Siliguri, till he failed to repay a bank loan and all his property was seized in 2003. For the next 14 years, Saha's home was a pavement near Calcutta high court, from where he fought a protracted legal battle alleging that the bank had seized and disposed of his property worth crores to realise a loan of Rs 9,75,152. Finally, on May 16, after nearly 380 hearings before several judges, the high court ordered a CBI probe into the matter.
"I have been wronged and it has been a long fight but I have finally been vindicated. I know there is still a long way to go but I will carry on the legal fight to get back what belongs to me," Saha told TOI over phone from Siliguri, where he has now returned.
For the first 10 years, Saha met with repeated setbacks in his legal battle with the State Bank of India's Ektiashal branch in Siliguri countering all his allegations. He first tasted success in 2013, when a bench of justices Ashim Kumar Banerjee and Ashoke Kumar Dasadhikari noted that it was the bank's obligation to disclose the exact amount of liability to Saha.
"We do not find any reason as to why in different communications, different amounts were shown as due from the petitioner. In one letter, it is more than one crore while in two other letters, the sums are in lakhs. Further, a suit was also filed by the bank for recovery of about six lakhs," the bench observed .
The judges directed an officer of rank not less than deputy general manager of the RBI to carry out a probe.
We also do not understand why the entire property of the petitioner was sold when bank authorities are claiming that the excess amount after adjustment was credited to the petitioner's account. The petitioner has every right to know what amount was actually due and what adjustment was made by the bank and what amount was received by it on sale of property and whether partial sale of property could have satisfied the dues after adjustment of fixed deposits," the bench had observed while directing an officer of rank not less than deputy general manager of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to carry out a probe in the matter.
On February 2, 2017, Justice Shivakant Prasad of the high court heard another portion of Saha's complaint and observed: "There is some mischief going on by and between the parties and some outsiders. The matter is required to be inquired into. The State Bank of India has also submitted that a letter, said to have been written to the petitioner on May 8, 2014, by an assistant general manager is not a genuine document. There appears to be mischief going on in connection with the loan account of the petitioner."
Though Saha sought a CBI probe, the court directed the regional director of RBI to include these matters in the inquiry being conducted and submit a supplementary report. It was the RBI that prayed for a recall of this order and on May 16 submitted in court that it is not technically equipped to examine the signatures on documents. The Prime Minister's Office, which was also a respondent in the matter, also submitted that it will serve the purpose if the CBI probes the matter. After going through these submissions Justice Prasad directed the CBI to investigate the matter.