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AXIS BANK Vs. SBS ORGANICS PVT. LTD & ANR

AXIS BANK

V

SBS ORGANICS PVT. LTD & ANR

  1. Subject matter: Whether the amount deposited by the appellant with Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal can be refunded upon the withdrawal of appeal under Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002.
  2. Brief facts: An appeal under Section 18 of The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (‘SARFAESI Act’) before the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (‘DRAT’) can be entertained only if the borrower deposits fifty per cent of the amount in terms of the order passed by the Debt Recovery Tribunal (‘DRT’) under Section 17 of the Act or fifty per cent of the amount due from the borrower as claimed by the secured creditor, whichever is less. The Appellate Tribunal may reduce the amount to twenty-five per cent. What is the fate of such deposit on the disposal of the appeal is the question arising for consideration in this case. The first respondent, being a borrower and aggrieved by the steps taken by the secured creditor, filed Securitisation Application No. 152 of 2010 before the Debt Recovery Tribunal, Ahmedabad. Though, initially an interim relief was granted, the same was vacated by order dated 20.01.2011. Therefore, the first respondent moved the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal, Mumbai under Section 18 of the SARFAESI Act. In terms of the proviso under Section 18, the first respondent made a deposit of Rs.50 lakhs before the Appellate Tribunal. During the pendency of the appeal before the DRAT, Securitisation Application itself was finally disposed of before the Debt Recovery Tribunal at Ahmedabad, setting aside the sale. Realising that the appeal did not survive thereafter, the first respondent sought permission to withdraw the same and also for refund of the deposit of Rs. 50 lakhs. Permission was granted, however, making it subject to the disposal of the appeal.
  3. Facts in issues: Whether the amount deposited by the appellant with Debt recovery appellate Tribunal can be refunded up on the withdrawn of appeal? As the appeal itself was being withdrawn, the first respondent moved the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmadabad by way of Writ Petition (Special Civil Application), aggrieved by the observation that the withdrawal would be subject to the result of the appeal. The same was disposed of by order dated 05.03.2015 by the learned Single Judge, setting aside the said condition and permitting the first respondent herein to withdraw the amount unconditionally. Aggrieved, the appellant-Bank filed an intra-Court appeal. That appeal was dismissed by order dated 01.04.2015 by a Division Bench, and thus aggrieved, the Bank has come up in appeal before the Supreme Court.
  4. Decision: Appeal dismissed.
  5. Reason: Any person aggrieved by the order of the DRT under Section 17 of the SARFAESI Act, is entitled to refer an appeal along with the prescribed fee within the permitted period of 30 days. For ‘preferring’ an appeal, a fee is prescribed, whereas for the Tribunal to ‘entertain’ the appeal, the aggrieved person has to make a deposit of fifty per cent of the amount of debt due from him as claimed by the secured creditors or determined by the DRT, whichever is less. This amount can, at the discretion of the Tribunal, in appropriate cases, for recorded reasons, be reduced to twenty- five per cent of the debt. In the given case, the first respondent had in fact sought withdrawal of the appeal, since the appellant had already proceeded against the secured assets by the time the appeal came up for consideration on merits. There is neither any order of appropriation during the pendency of the appeal nor any attachment on the pre-deposit. Therefore, the deposit made by the first respondent is liable to be returned to the first respondent. Though for different reasons as well, we endorse the view taken by the High Court. Thus, there is no merit in the appeal. It is accordingly dismissed. We make it clear that the dismissal of the appeal is without prejudice to the liberty available to the appellant to take appropriate steps under Section 13(10) of the SARFAESI Act read with Rule 11 of the Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules, 2002.

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