The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is planning to initiate prosecution procedures against some leading banks, both nationalised and private, in the city. According to the civic authorities, the move has been prompted by the banks’ failure to “obtain a certificate of enlistment”, a statutory requirement to run any business in the CMC area, despite “repeated” reminders.
According to a senior CMC official, there are around 500 such defaulter branches in the city, which haven’t paid their dues since 1984. Though the default amount varies with respect to the space occupied by the banks, CMC estimates suggest that the banks owe “no less than Rs 60,000 each” to the civic authorities, which include trade licence fees and ancillary charges.
“As they have not complied with the requirement under Section 199(1) of the CMC Act, 1980, the banks have no legal standing to run their business in the CMC area. We had put up notices on the premises of individual banks, urging them to clear the dues, but they didn’t pay heed to our request. We will give them some more time to pay up, and then start prosecuting them under the CMC provisions,” said the official. The move is part of the cash-strapped civic body’s revenue-collection drive.
The list of defaulting banks includes branches of State Bank of India, United Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Indian Overseas Bank, HDFC Bank, Indian Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, Canara Bank, United Commercial Bank, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank.
Most banks argue that the civic authorities had “never informed” them about their obligations under the provisions of the law, in place for around 20 years. There are also complaints that the civic authorities are charging separate fees for the ATM counters outside the bank, which some bank officials believe can be contested.
“We haven’t received any communiqué from the CMC at our headquarters about the defaults of some of the branches in the city. But, we understand that some of our branches haven’t renewed their trade licences. We are examining the situation and will pay up the statutory dues after discussing the issue with the authorities,” said a State Bank of India spokesperson.