Alarmed by the inaction of revenue authorities in aiding banks and other secure creditors from realising their blocked assets despite clear directions to enable the same through police protection, the Madras High Court has sought the executive including the police to be alive to such direction as per the SARFAESI Act, which envisages quick possession of such assets and sell them so that the funds are unblocked and gets further circulated in the economy.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observation while disposing of a plea moved by a bank, which claimed that despite obtaining a relevant order on April 3, 2019, directing Tahsildar, Chengalpattu to obtain adequate police protection from the DSP to take possession of the property, the relevant Tahsildar has not taken any steps.
Pointing out that for a start, the authorities approached with a request under Section 14 of the Act, whether a Chief Judicial Magistrate or a Collector, need to ascertain whether the declarations as required have been furnished by the petitioning secured creditor, the bench said: “Once they are found to be in order, the authority concerned has to accept the same at face value without seeking to ascertain the veracity, whether by issuing notice to the borrowers or any other.”
“There is no element of adjudication which is undertaken in course of proceedings under Section 14 of the said Act,” the bench stressed.
Further, the bench, on wondering whether due to the pandemic or otherwise several requests have been pending over the last couple of years, said: “As is evident from this case, even when orders are issued on such requests under Section 14 of the Act, the officials downstream attach little or no importance to the same.”
“A level of awareness must be created so that revenue officials and police officers understand the scope and importance of such provision and the directions issued,” the bench said while volunteering to hold such a class for the executive.
Following this, the bench directed the Tahsildar concerned and the Superintendent of Police, Chengalpattu to provide the requisite assistance to the bank within a fortnight.