The Gujarat High Court has pulled up the State Bank of India (SBI) for not issuing a no-dues certificate in a land sale matter over a farmer's outstanding amount of just 31 paise, observing that this was “nothing but harassment”.
While hearing a petition on Wednesday, Justice Bhargav Karia expressed displeasure over the bank, the country's largest lender, withholding the no-dues certificate, which is required for clearing a land deal. "This is too much. A nationalised bank says that a no-dues certificate will not be issued just for 31 paise," the judge said.
As per the case details, the petitioners — Rakesh Verma and Manoj Verma — had purchased a piece of land in Khoraj village near Ahmedabad city from farmer Shamjibhai and his family in 2020.
Since Shamjibhai had sold the land to the petitioners before repaying a crop loan of Rs 3 lakh, which he had taken from the SBI, the petitioners (who are new owners of the land) could not enter their names in the revenue records because of the bank's charge on the land parcel. Though the farmer later repaid the entire amount to the bank, the SBI did not issue a no-dues certificate for some reason, following which the new owners moved to the high court two years ago.
During the hearing on Wednesday, when Justice Karia asked the bank to submit the no-dues certificate in the court, SBI's lawyer Anand Gogia said, "It's not possible because there is an outstanding amount of 31 paise. It is system generated." To this, Justice Karia said anything less than 50 paise should be ignored and the certificate should be issued because the original borrower had already paid the entire due on crop loan.
When Gogia said the SBI manager had given an oral instruction that the certificate cannot be issued, the judge got angry and directed the advocate to ask the manager to appear before the court. "The Banking Regulation Act says that anything less than 50 paise should not be counted. Why are you harassing people? It's nothing but harassment by your manager," Justice Karia said. As Gogia sought time to file a detailed affidavit to put forth the technicalities of the issue, Justice Karia kept the matter for further hearing on May 2.
-With PTI Input