Recovery Proceedings| Primary forum (DRT) being in Ernakulam, Kerala HC has supervisory jurisdiction over DRAT, Chennai

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Dama Seshadri Naidu, J. while hearing an original petition in a debt recovery matter ruled that where a Tribunal exercises its jurisdiction over more than one State, then the High Court in the State where the first court is located has supervisory jurisdiction over the said Tribunal.

In a recovery proceeding filed by the respondent bank, petitioner purchased a secured asset brought for sale by the bank. Defaulting borrowers filed an application before Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Ernakulam which set aside the sale in favour of petitioner. Aggrieved thereby, bank filed an appeal before Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT), Chennai wherein the petitioner pleaded that he had parted with his money and purchased the property on bank officials’ assurance. But since the property was now entangled in legal proceedings, he did not wish to contest the proceedings and wanted his money back with interest and damages. In this backdrop, the present petition was filed seeking a direction to DRAT, Chennai for early disposal of the appeal.

The respondent bank raised an objection as to maintainability of the petition in view of territorial jurisdiction. Thus, the question for Court’s consideration was as to whether it could assume supervisory jurisdiction over DRAT, Chennai.

Relying on the dictum of Apex Court in Ambica Industries v. CCE, (2007) 6 SCC 769 it was held that when the High Court exercises its jurisdiction over a Tribunal extending its jurisdiction over more than one State, then the High Court in the State where the first court is located would be the proper forum. In the instant case, the primary forum was DRT, Ernakulam and as such the High Court could eminently exercise its supervisory jurisdiction over DRAT, Chennai.

The petition was allowed directing DRAT to dispose of the appeal within three months.[Thomas Chacko v. Bank of India,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4915, decided on 01-11-2018]

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