The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court rap for bank car seize

Calcutta High Court on Wednesday hauled up a leading multinational bank for allegedly impounding a car, by force, from a person who had bought it on a loan but had apparently failed to pay back the entire amount.

On a plea by Jhunjhunwala and Company, which alleged that musclemen engaged by Standard Chartered snatched the car, Justice Barin Ghosh asked senior bank representatives to be present in court when the case will be heard after the vacation.

Blaming foreign banks for disregarding the Indian judiciary and encouraging goons to take the law into their hands, Justice Ghosh said every firm doing business in the country must abide by its rules.

But speaking for the bank, advocate Jaymalya Bagchi told Metro that Jhunjhunwala and Company was a “genuine defaulter”. No force was used to take away the car, he insisted, adding that the bank had simply impounded the car “as there was no other way to get the defaulter to pay back the loan”.

The complainant, in the affidavit, admitted buying a car with the help of a loan taken from Standard Chartered. Trouble arose when the trading firm claimed it had paid back all its dues, but the bank’s records showed otherwise. Two armed musclemen then allegedly took away the car.

Responding to the complaint by Jhunjhunwala and Company, three petitioners on behalf of the bank pleaded with Justice P.N. Sinha in the high court to quash the case, as the complainant owed them a part of the loan. Justice Sinha, in an ex parte order, agreed.

Then, Jhunjhunwala and Company went to court alleging police inaction and pleading that the bank be pulled up for its acts. Bank representatives and the musclemen allegedly employed by them were called to Justice Ghosh’s court on Wednesday morning, but as they were absent, they were intimated (through their lawyers) to be present after lunch.

No one showed up, provoking Justice Ghosh to threaten an order of arrest against them. Around 20 lawyers representing the bank pleaded with him to rescind the order. The judge agreed, but said the bank’s representatives must be present in court to promise to abide by the law of the land. “If you want to do business here, you must follow the rules laid down,” he added, referring to several Supreme Court verdicts giving no car-ownership right to the financier.

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