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Phenomenal Achievement for the Movement started by All India Central Bank Employees

  • Akshay Rane
  • May 10, 2019
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Hon. Supreme Court’s directions  dated 26th April, 2019 to R.B.I. to stop blocking disclosure of information including list of bank defaulters, Annual Inspection Reports of Banks and other reports under the Right to Information Act 2005 : It is a Phenomenal Achievement  for the Movement started by All India Central Bank Employees’ Congress             ( Affiliated to INBEF/INTUC) against NPA Menace in Banks.

In past, Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of the banks was the concern of only banking industry but in today’s era everyone right from Bankers, Customers, Politicians and even Judiciary has been showing the concern over the rising NPAs in the banking industry.  Of course, amongst all these, politicians and political parties are the one who are at loggerheads trying to pass on the buck in proving under whose tenure the NPAs have risen and who are responsible to it.  Under UPA period NPA amounted to Rs.2,27,000 Crore as on 31st March,2014 and now under the present Government for the financial year 2017-18 it has crossed 11 lakh crores.  Current scenario raises the finger towards the nexus between political parties and the corporate. Government is not introducing the regulations to fix accountability of the CMDs/ EDs/CEOs of the Banks for NPAs. Our petition on this matter is pending before the Hon. High Court at Bombay.

Very recently Honorable Supreme Court on 26.04.2019 showed its concern on rising NPAs and issued directions to Reserve Bank of India to stop blocking disclosure of information including list of bank defaulters, Annual Inspection Reports of Banks and other reports under the Right to Information Act 2005. In December 2015 in its ruling Honorable Supreme Court had already asked RBI to amend its “Disclosure Policy” under which RBI was reluctant to part with information under the garb of “Disclosure Policy” and the Corporate Borrowers were taking advantage of the same. It appears that RBI was protecting the interests of the Big Bad Borrowers by prohibiting publication of details of NPAs and written off Accounts. The stand of RBI is certainly questionable.

NPA Menace has taken a Center-stage these days on National Banking & Economic Sector. The problem of bad loans is gigantic. The total gross Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of the banking system were reportedly Rs. 4 lakh crores at the end of December 2015. Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur had earlier directed the Finance Ministry to form a panel to look the issue of bad loans saying ‘something is not working’ in the present system and has to be fixed. We come across different statements issued by RBI Governor and others on the issue every now and then.

However, our union had thought about the NPA issue well before others and had included the issue in the Countrywide Agitation Program Launched by All India Central Bank Employees’ Congress (AICBEC affiliated to INEBF/INTUC) in Central Bank of India.

Foreseeing the alarming situation created by huge NPAs, which would affect the service conditions of the bank employees, Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF) a banking wing of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) raised the rising NPA issue.  INBEF started its campaign against NPA in Central Bank of India and requested the bank to disclose the names of Central Bank of India’s defaulters to name and shame such willful defaulters which will force such defaulters to repay the bank’s loan.  However, the bank refused to accede to the request of INBEF led organisation.  Organisation thereafter on 1st November, 2014 to create awareness amongst the Public and to safeguard the banks as well as Public’s interest who are the stake holders in the bank; took out a “Mass Rally” (Jan Jagruti Morcha) from Churchgate to Azad Maidan, strongly demanding recovery from  bank’s big ticket defaulters.  The Media took the cognizance of the rally and made it in Public the details of banks defaulters and losses to the bank.  Central Bank Management instead of appreciating the organisation’s move came down heavily on the organisation and its leaders more particularly its General Secretary, Shri Subhash S Sawant.  Management went to the extent of seeking explanation, initiating the inquiry against the General Secretary in order to stop his Pension and threatened with other punitive actions. Hence Shri Subhash S. Sawant, General Secretary of the Union and Central Bank Employees Union, Mumbai had filed a PIL in the Hon. High court of Judicature at Bombay on 10th December 2014 against 1) Union of India, 2) The Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India, 3) Reserve Bank of India, 4) Central Vigilance Commission, & 5) Central Bank of India. The PIL filed under Article 226 of the constitution of India, pointing out the wrongful and illegal actions of various Public Sector Banks and more particularity Central Bank of India in relation to its borrowers who have defaulted in payments of huge amounts of loans running into thousands of crores of rupees. Instead of rewarding the whistle blower, the Bank Management contemplated Departmental Inquiries and threatening legal action against whistleblower presumably at the behest of its defaulters and to protect the interests of defaulters.

 The Jan Jagruti Morcha organised by Central Bank Employees’ Union, Mumbai, was the first of its kind in India which created tremendous awareness throughout the country. This issue was raised by different organisations thereafter. Even the RBI Governor Shri Raghuram Rajan started issuing statements on this issue expressing needs for accelerating recovery measurers by Banks. He also appreciated Union’s action in his lectures.

However, instead of appreciating the efforts of the Union, the management of Central Bank of India were aggrieved and started taking vindictive action against the office Bearers of the Union. As the management’s action was questionable there was no alternative but to approach Court for initiating action for recovery of bad debts (NPAs).

The Hon. High Court on 22.03.2016 directed the first to fourth Respondents to treat this PIL as a representation made by the second petitioner (i.e. Central Bank Employees Union, Mumbai) and take a decision thereon in accordance with law. The decision taken on the said representation by the respondents No.1 to 4 (i.e. Union of India, Ministry of Finance, RBI and CVC) had to be communicated to the Petitioners within a Period of 3 months from the date of the order.

The copy of the High Court order has been served to the concerned respondents vide letter dt. 26.04.2016 through Advocate Vijayprakash Yadav. As no replies were received within the stipulated time, Contempt of Court Application has been filed in the matter.

INBEF was the pioneer who staged protest and raised its voice on the inaction of the bank management, RBI and Govt of India on tackling the issue of NPAs. 

INBEF has always been in forefront in taking up the issue of rising NPAs and has been talking on the same line as the Honorable Supreme Court has been showing its concern today.  INBEF has time and again showing its displeasure with bank management, RBI and Govt of India in the manner they have been trying to suppress the serious irregularities, malpractices and is avoiding action against the crony corporate, perpetrators  by the regulatory authorities under the pretext of economic interest, commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship or public interest. 

Now with the recent directions issued on 26th April, 2019 by Honorable Supreme Court a ray of hope has ignited as we see a light at the end of tunnel and at least now the Banks, Govt. of India, Judiciary and other regulatory authorities will deal with the willful defaulters strongly instead of coming heavily on organizations (Unions/whistle blowers) and its leaders by punitive actions. Punitive action against the willful defaulters and rewards/protection to the whistle-blowers will only save the banking industry and strengthen the financial sector and Indian economy. Because of the Supreme Court Directions RBI will not be able to hide the details of NPA Borrowers. We wholeheartedly welcome the decision of Hon. Supreme Court of India.

Subhash S Sawant 

General Secretary

All India Central Bank Employees’ Congress &

Indian National Bank Employees’ Federation

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