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Re-appointment of Presiding Officers in DRTs: Finmin may seek law ministry views

KR Srivats New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on August 21, 2016

Need legal clarity on the number of re-appointments allowed for a person

The Finance Ministry may seek law ministry’s opinion on recent legislative amendment that has paved the way for re-appointment of Presiding Officers in Debt Recovery Tribunals and Chairperson of Debt Recovery Appellant Tribunals (DRATs).

The basic issue that requires legal clarity is how many times a person can get re-appointed — would it be only once or can it be multiple times, a top Finance Ministry official said.

While the recent legislative change to the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDDB) took care of the aspect of ‘re-appointment’, it has not explicitly clarified on the number of times a person could be re-appointed, the official said.

“In my view, it (re-appointment) could be more than once. A mention of the word ‘re-appointment’ in the statute doesn’t mean only once. I would be more comfortable if law ministry confirms my understanding”, the Finance Ministry official said. Prior to the recent legislative amendment to RDDB, there was no explicit provision in this law allowing Presiding Officers in DRTs and Chairperson to DRAT to get re-appointed.

The Supreme Court had also in a ruling said that re-appointments cannot happen unless the RDDB Act explicitly provided for it.

With the RDDB now explicitly allowing re-appointment for fresh term of 5 years in same or any other tribunal, the Finance Ministry is hopeful that many candidates would look to become Presiding Officer or a Chairperson at an earlier age of say 45-50 years.

The catchment area was limited earlier when the statute had prescribed retirement age of 62 years without providing for re-appointment.

“Allowing re-appointment is definitely going to help us especially after the retirement age of presiding officers has been enhanced to 65 years from 62 years and that of Chairperson from 65 years to 70 years”, the official said.

Although re-appointment has been allowed, the candidate has to go through the selection process afresh, the official noted.

“Though there has to be fresh selection. Selection process is the same as currently adopted”.

POWERS TO DRTs

The Centre has, through the recent changes to the RDDB Act, conferred more powers to DRTs. This is expected to help clear the logjam in DRTs where more than 70,000 cases worth lakhs of crore are stuck.

Currently, India has 33 DRTs with six more coming up in various parts of the country.

Specific powers have been given to DRTs to decide applications filed by borrowers and third parties including tenants, on the basis of guidelines issued by the Apex Court.

DRTs may order detention in Civil Prison for upto three months in case of disobedience of order directing the defendant to furnish particulars of property or assets belonging to him.

Also, recovery certificate issued by Presiding Officer would be deemed to be decree or order of the Court.

Published on August 21, 2016
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