Bombay High Court on Friday expressed its disappointment over the delay in appointment of the chairperson of Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT) and also the members of Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).
The bench has directed the Centre government to submit a short note by next Thursday with a road map explaining what steps are being taken to expedite the appointment process.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing two writ petitions seeking directions to the Centre for early appointment of DRAT chairperson Mumbai.
The High Court has been issuing directions to help the litigants who are left with a non-functional DRAT where senior positions are still vacant.
“We are all talking about a booster. We read in the newspaper that the current budget will be a booster for the economy. Where is the booster for the judiciary? This (Mumbai) is the financial capital,” the bench questioned.
Emphasizing that DRAT is an important institution, especially in the city like Mumbai, the bench said, “Please convey the concern of the court to the officer. If by next Thursday if we do not get a proper picture, we may have to think otherwise. On the one hand, we want to boost the economy and on the other hand we are not letting banks recover money.”
The bench added that this is the financial capital and commercial matters have to be taken into consideration.
As a result of the non-functionality of DRAT, the High Court has been hearing those matters too. “We are doing the function of DRAT.. We are tired of the adjectives being used like “due diligence”.. What “due diligence” is being done,” the court said.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Centre government, submitted that the matter is being pursued by concerned authorities with due diligence and would be in position to make a statement by three weeks.
To which the court replied, “Either the names are cleared or not. There is nothing like “almost cleared”. We expressed our mind in December 2021, it has been 2 months since. We need a roadmap that this is what is done and this is what remains to be done.”
Directing the Centre government to submit the road map by February 10, the bench noted, “We have perused our earlier orders, where in no uncertain terms we had expressed our concern and dismay at the manner in which the entire matter of appointment has been dealt with by the relevant department. We have no reason to disbelieve the statement made by ASG that in weeks he would be in a position to make a positive, but we need to know where the matter stands at present, what is the status, what steps are required to be taken for appointment of Chairperson of DRAT(M). The relevant department of Union to file a note by next Thursday indicating the roadmap for such an appointment. We propose to pass further orders after looking into such notes that may be placed before us. The interim order passed in December 2021, continued by January 14, is hereby extended and shall remain in operation till Feb 28, 2022, if not directed otherwise in the meanwhile.”