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Centre cannot give additional charge of DRT to another one outside the State: Kerala HC

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on June 11, 2021

‘It can authorise a presiding officer of any other tribunal within the State to discharge the functions of the DRT’

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has held that the Centre cannot entrust the charge of a Debts Recovery Tribunal in a State to another DRT outside the State. But it can authorise a presiding officer of any other tribunal within the State to discharge the functions of the DRT.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chali passed the verdict while allowing an appeal filed by a jewellery firm from Thrissur and others against a single judge’s verdict upholding a notification entrusting the charge of Presiding Officer of the Ernakulam Debts Recovery Tribunal-II to the Bangalore DRT Presiding Officer.

Quashing the notification, the Bench observed that the view adopted by the single Judge was not correct, “because, if and when the office of the Tribunal under the (Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act 1993 falls vacant, the course open to the Central Government is only to authorise the Presiding Officer of any other Tribunal constituted under any other law within the jurisdictional State, to discharge the functions of the Presiding Officer of a DRT, which would be more beneficial and accessible to the litigant public”.

The petitioners contended that the order of the single Judge was ultra vires of sub-section (2)(a) and (b) of Section 4 of the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993, which was incorporated in 2016 by an amendment which had taken away the provision enabling the Central Government to authorise the Presiding Officer of one DRT to discharge the functions of another.

The petitioners also sought a direction to the Centre to entrust the additional charge of DRT-II, Ernakulam to any Presiding Officer or Judicial member of any other tribunal till a regular incumbent is appointed.

Published on June 11, 2021

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