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Saini and Co. Rice Mills Etc. Vs. State of Punjab - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectBanking;Commercial
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(2009)156PLR559
AppellantSaini and Co. Rice Mills Etc.
RespondentState of Punjab
Cases ReferredOriental Bank of Commerce v. Sunder Lal Jain and Anr.
Excerpt:
- t.s. thakur, c.j.1. a common question of law arises for consideration in these writ petitions, which were heard together and shall stand disposed of by this common order. the question is whether the guidelines issued by small industrial development bank of india regarding one time settlement of non-performing assets of the financial corporations are binding on the said corporations. before we examine the merits of the rival contentions urged before us we may briefly set out the factual backdrop in which the present petitions have been filed.2. civil writ petition no. 2224 of 2005 purports to have been filed in public interest by members of what is described as border district and punjab allied industries association. the remaining petitions forming part of this batch have been filed by.....
Judgment:

T.S. Thakur, C.J.

1. A Common question of law arises for consideration in these writ petitions, which were heard together and shall stand disposed of by this common order. The question is whether the guidelines issued by Small Industrial Development Bank of India regarding one time settlement of non-performing assets of the Financial Corporations are binding on the said Corporations. Before we examine the merits of the rival contentions urged before us we may briefly set out the factual backdrop in which the present petitions have been filed.

2. Civil Writ Petition No. 2224 of 2005 purports to have been filed in public interest by members of what is described as Border District and Punjab Allied Industries Association. The remaining petitions forming part of this batch have been filed by different industrial units, who are in default of payment of the amounts borrowed by them from the Punjab Financial Corporation and against whom the Corporation has initiated proceedings for recovery of outstanding loan amounts. In Civil Writ Petition No. 2224 of 2005, the petitioners pray for a mandamus directing the respondent-Corporation to settle the accounts of the petitioners in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Small Industrial Development Bank of India (SIDBI), which guidelines are according to the petitioners binding on the State Financial Corporation. It also prays for a mandamus directing the respondent-State of Punjab to implement the recommendations of the RBI Committee and to direct CBI investigation into the affairs of the Punjab Financial Corporation, which have been mismanaged resulting in a loss of rupees 500 crores. A direction to the Government to fix the responsibility of the erring officials of the Corporation responsible for the loss suffered by it has also been prayed for apart from other incidental reliefs. In the connected writ petitions also the prayer made by the petitioners who happen to be borrowing industrial units is almost on similar lines. A mandamus directing the Financial Corporation to follow the guidelines issued by SIDBI is the common fiber that runs through all the writ petitions.

3. It is, in our opinion unnecessary to set out in detail the individual facts and circumstances of each one of the cases, the amount that was borrowed or is outstanding against the petitioners or the circumstances in which the borrowers committed default and are facing action from the Corporation for recovery of the loan amount recoverable from them. That is because the individual facts of each case do not hold the key to deciding the short question that falls for consideration before us. The answer to the question would in our opinion largely depend upon a true and correct interpretation of the provisions of the legislative enactments under which the State Financial Corporation and SIDBI have been established. We can, therefore, straight away refer to the scheme and the provisions of the two enactments, under which the said Corporations exercise their powers and discharge their duties and functions.

4. The Punjab State Financial Corporation has been established under the State Financial Corporation Act, 1951. In its broad scheme, Chapter II of the said Act deals with incorporation of State Financial Corporations, their capital and management. Chapter III prescribes the powers and duties of the Board. Chapter IV stipulates the provisions for investment of funds, accounts and audit of the Corporation funds, whereas Chapter V comprises miscellaneous provisions.

5. Section 29 of the Act empowers the Financial Corporation to take over the management or possession of the industrial concern as well as the right to transfer by way of lease or sale in case any such concern makes a default in repayment of loan or advance or any instalment thereof or in meeting its obligation in relation to any guarantee given by the Corporation. It also empowers the Corporation to take over the unit in case it fails to comply with the terms of its agreement with the Corporation. Sections 30 and 31 of the Act prescribe the powers to be exercised by the Financial Corporation in regard to repayment before the agreed period or enforcement of claims by the Financial Corporation, where the industrial concern is in breach of any agreement or in default of repayment of loan. Section 33 makes a provision for the Financial Corporation to have its own funds and all receipts of the Financial Corporation to be carried thereto and all payments to be made therefrom. Investment of funds by the Corporation is governed by Section 34 of the Act, which provides that the Corporation may invest its funds in accordance with guidelines applicable and the norms as may be prescribed and in such securities as the Board may decide from time to time. Among the miscellaneous provisions made in Chapter V appearing is Section 39 of the Act, which empowers the State Government to give instructions on questions of policy matter in consultation with and after obtaining the advice of Small Industries Bank. We shall presently deal with the said provisions when we take up for discussion the rival submissions made at the bar by the learned Counsel for the parties on the question whether the guidelines issued by the SIDBI are binding on the Financial Corporations.

6. The Small Industries Development Bank of India (hereinafter referred to as the 'SIDBI') has been established under the Small Industrial Development Bank of India Act, 1989. Section 3 of the said Act empowers the State Government to establish for the purposes of the said Act a Corporation to be known as the Small Industries Development Bank of India. Chapter III of the said Act deals with Management of the Small Industries Bank and matters relating thereto. Chapter IV deals with the business of the Small Industries Bank, which includes several kinds of activities including granting of loans and advances to banks or financial institutions, accepting, collecting, discounting or re-discounting bills of exchange or promissory notes, subscribing to or purchasing stocks, shares, bonds or debentures, granting letters of credit or loans and advances to the Financial Corporations and the like. Chapter V deals with the Small Industries Development Assistance Fund while Chapter VI deals with Small Industries General Fund, Accounts and Audit. Chapter VII deals with transfer of a part of business of Development Bank while Chapter VIII makes miscellaneous provisions including those relating to staff of the Bank, delegation of powers, returns, obligations as to fidelity and secrecy and power to call for re-payment before agreed period and enforcement of claims by the SIDBI.

7. Before we go to the heart of the matter, namely, whether one time settlement guidelines issued by the SIDBI are binding on the State Financial Corporations, we may briefly refer to the said guidelines and few orders passed by this Court, which are relevant to the said question and place the controversy in proper perspective.

8. Taking a cue from Reserve Bank of India guidelines for settlement of chronic non-performing assets (NPAs) of public sector banks and based on the recommendations made by what was known as Gupta Committee on Restructuring of SFCs as well as Nimbalkar Committee, SIDBI decided to formulate certain broad guidelines for one time settlement for the State Financial Corporations. The guidelines issued permitted the State Financial Corporations to formulate their one time settlement schemes to suit their peculiar needs. The relevant part of the guidelines issued by the SIDBI may be extracted at this stage:

The Gupta Committee on Restructing of SFCs as well as the Nimbalkar Committee have recommended that SIDBI, being the Supervisory and monitoring body over the SFCs should come up with common 'One Time Settlement' guidelines for SFCs. Even the COSIDICI has informed that there was a general consensus amongst the SFCs that SIDBI might give certain broad guidelines and based on these, SFCs be given freedom to formulate their OTS policy to suit their own peculiar needs. Accordingly SIDBI has set out following guidelines for OTS scheme in respect of chronic NPAs of SFCs. The guidelines will not, however cover cases of willful default, fraud and malfeasance.

(emphasis supplied)

9. Reference may also be made to the last paragraph of circular issued by the SIDBI, which advised the State Financial Corporations to place the said circular at the next meeting of the Financial Corporations for consideration and adoption. The circular made it clear that the Financial Corporations will have Freedom to modify the one time settlement scheme to suit their peculiar needs. The relevant part of the circular reads:

SFCs are advised to place this circular at the next meeting of their Board of Directors for consideration and adoption. They may also note that they will have some flexibility to modify the scheme, if necessary, to suit their specific needs, under advice to SIDBI. A copy of the guidelines as approved by the Board may please be forwarded to us for our information and records.

10. The circular aforementioned, it appears, was brought up and discussed before the Board of Directors of the Punjab Financial Corporation in its meeting held on 7.8.2003, culminating in the passing of a resolution, which reads:

Memorandum No. BOD/696/2003 dated 23rd July, 2003 alongwith its enclosures was considered. The Board observed that the guidelines issued by SIDBI vide Circular No. 4 dated 14th July, 2003 are on the pattern of the revised guidelines issued by RBI for settlement of NPAs by the commercial banks. The Corporation, in consonance to the Industrial Policy announced by the State Govt. has adopted One Time Settlement Scheme formulated on the basis of RBI Guidelines for operation during the period from 1st April to 30th June, 2003. The Corporation has under the scheme revised the cut off date for settlement of NPAs from 31st March, 2000 (in the RBI guidelines) to 31st March, 2001, in order to provide relief to a large number of borrowers. The Corporation has also adopted another scheme to settle all NPA as on 31.12.2002 for implementation during the same period. The Corporation has also given an option to the borrower to opt for any one of these schemes which is more beneficial to the borrower. The Corporation received good response under these schemes as per details given in the Memorandum No. BD/720/2003 (Item No. 339.43) dated 5th August, 2003. The applications received by the Corporation are in process.

The Board further observed that at the time of adoption of these schemes, it was decided and announced that the Corporation will not have any other Settlement Scheme during the next 3 years to dispel the belief amongst the borrowers that the settlement schemes are being offered from time to time and resultantly some of the borrowers are withholding repayment of their dues to the Corporation,

In view of the above the Board of Directors decided that SIDBI be apprised of these schemes alongwith the details, progress made, with a request to compensate the Corporation for the financial sacrifice involved in settlement of NPAs under these schemes which were in operation during the period from 1st April to 30th June, 2003.

11. Civil Writ Petition No. 8260 of 2001 and other connected matters had, in the meanwhile, been filed by the borrowers-Units in which they had sought a mandamus directing the Corporation to settle their accounts in accordance with the guidelines issued by the RBI. The said petitions were, however, dismissed by this Court holding that the RBI guidelines were not binding on the State Financial Corporations. The Court had also observed that the State Financial Corporation Act and the SIDBI Act do not contain any provision under which SIDBI could give directions to the State Financial Corporations. Having said so, the Court directed that the applications made by the Industrial Units for one time settlement scheme formulated by the Corporations shall be considered and disposed of by making speaking orders in regard to the same provided that such settlement shall be granted in case the borrowers satisfy the conditions specified in the policy. The Court also observed that the Corporation could consider the desirability of setting up of an appellate authority to hear appeals from the orders passed by the competent authority.

12. Civil Writ Petition No. 16362 of 2003 and 23 other writ petitions were then filed by different Industrial Units for a mandamus directing the Punjab Financial Corporation to follow the guidelines issued by the SIDBI in terms of circular No. 4 dated 14.7.2003 referred to earlier. This Court, however, declined to interfere and disposed of the said petitions also by an order dated 17.10.2003 holding that instead of rushing to this Court, the petitioners should have approached the Settlement Committee of the Corporation constituted by the Board in terms of the directions issued in Civil Writ Petition No. 8260 of 2001 and other connected matters referred to earlier. The Court held that there was no basis for the apprehension expressed by the petitioner Units that their request for one time settlement would not be examined by the Corporation.

13. The present batch of writ petitions was then filed between the years 2003 to 2007 in which the petitioners have once again raised the very same issue and urged that the SIDBI guidelines were binding upon the Financial Corporations and that this Court ought to direct the Corporation to implement the said guidelines. This position has been disputed by the Corporation in the counter affidavit filed on its behalf inter alia stating that SIDBI guidelines could not ipso facto bind the Corporation. That apart the language employed in the guidelines also did not suggest that the same were mandatory which fact was further clarified by SIDBI in its communication dated 14.7.2004. The SIDBI had by the said communication clarified that the guidelines issued by it were broad guidelines based on which the Corporations could frame their own one time settlement policy to suit their requirements.

14. Appealing for the petitioners, M/s A.K. Chopra and Pawan Mutneja, Senior Advocates, argued that the guidelines formulated by SIDBI were binding upon the Financial Corporations not only because the provisions of the State Financial Corporation Act and the SIDBI Act carved out a significant role to be played by the SIDBI in the affairs of the Corporation but also because the guidelines had been issued on the basis of a general consensus among the Financial Corporations that the SIDBI could formulate uniform set of norms applicable to all the Corporations. It was urged that the nature and the functions, which the Corporation discharged under the Act and those discharged by the SIDBI and the inter-se relationship between the two statutes and the creatures thereof tantamount to the Financial Corporation being an agent of SIDBI hence bound by the directions given to it by the latter. It was also contended that as a responsible Institution established under the Act of Parliament, the Financial Corporation could not without thorough and proper deliberations on the guidelines formulated by SIDBI and after careful evaluation of all the necessary parameters decline to accept the said, guidelines only because the Corporation had formulated its own one time settlement scheme. It was argued that the Corporation was acting arbitrarily only to place its false prestige above public interest, which demanded a more realistic approach towards the problem of recovery of outstanding loans running into thousands of crores. The working of the State Financial Corporation also came under severe criticism by the learned Counsel for the petitioners, according to whom, all. was not well with the affairs of the Corporation, which could be got investigated by this Court through an appropriate agency in public interest.

15. On behalf of the respondents, it was per contra submitted that the question whether SIDBI guidelines were binding on the Corporation stood concluded by the decision of this Court in Civil Writ Petition No. 8260 of 2001, which decision having been delivered by a coordinate Bench was binding on this Court. It was also contended that there was no juristic or other basis for the petitioners to argue that the SIDBI guidelines were binding on the Corporation, which was created under a separate piece of legislation and exercised specific powers and functions conferred upon it. It was submitted that neither in the State Financial Corporation Act nor in the SIDBI Act was there any provision, which empowered SIDBI to issue any direction binding upon the Corporation either on a policy matter or otherwise.

16. We have given our careful consideration to the submissions made at the Bar. The short question that falls for our determination is whether the guidelines issued by SIDBI for one time settlement of non-performing assets are binding on the State Financial Corporations. That question is no longer res integra having been answered in the negative by the Division Bench of this Court in Civil Writ Petition' Mo.8260 of 2001 referred to earlier. The following passage from the said decision is, in this regard, apposite:

The argument of learned Counsel for the petitioners that the Court may give directions to the SIDBI to ensure implementation of the RBI guidelines by the Corporation merits summary rejection because the 1951 Act and the SIDBI Act do not contain any provision under which the SIDBI can give direction to the SFCs on policy matters. The role of SIDBI, as mentioned above, is confined to certain specified matters and it is only the State Government which is empowered to give directions to the Corporation on policy matters.

(emphasis supplied)

17. Sitting as a Bench of Coordinate jurisdiction we are bound by the above decision. Even otherwise, we see no reason whatsoever for us to take a view different from the one taken by their Lordships in the above case. The fact that State Financial Corporation Act, 1951 and SIDBI Act did not contain any specific provision empowering SIDBI to issue guidelines to the Financial Corporation either on a policy matter or otherwise was not disputed before us at the bar. In the absence of any such specific provision, we find it difficult how the petitioners or for that matter SIDBI can claim any power to bind the Corporation with any guidelines that it may choose to issue.

18. The argument that the provisions of the State Financial Corporation Act and in particular Section 39 thereof bring about a relation of principal and agent between the SIDBI and Financial Corporation has also not impressed us. Section 39 of the State Financial Corporations Act, 1951 reads as under:

39. Power to give instructions to Financial Corporation on questions of policy: (1) In the discharge of its functions, the Board shall be guided by such instructions on question of policy as may be given to it by the State Government in consultation with, and after obtaining the advice of, the Small Industries Bank.

(2) If any dispute arises between the State Government and the Board as to whether a question is or is not a question of policy, the decision of the State Government shall be final.

[(2-A) Nothing contained in Sub-section (1) and subsection

(2) shall apply in a case where a State Government holds less than fifty-one per cent of the equity shares in the Financial Corporation.

(2-B) Notwithstanding the equity share holding of a Financial Corporation by a State Government, the State Government may advise the Financial Corporations on the matters of policy.]

(3) If the Board fails to carry out the instructions on the question of policy laid down by the State Government [under Sub-section (1) of this section or the instructions given to the Board under Sub-section (4) of Section 37-A, the State Government shall have the power to supersede the Board and appoint a new Board in its place to function until a properly constituted Board is set up, and the decision of the State Government as to the grounds for superseding the Board shall not be questioned in any Court.

19. A careful reading of the above would show that the same envisages instructions from the 'State Government' to the Financial Corporations on questions of policy. Even those instructions are subject to two important conditions. The first is that SIDBI is consulted by the Government before issuing any such instructions. The SIDBI thus has the role of only a consultant to the Government and no more. The second condition which is equally important is that in cases where the State Government does not hold 51% or more of equity shares in the Financial Corporation, no such directions can be issued with or without SIDBI's consultation. This is evident from a plain reading of Sub-section 2 of Section 39. Assuming that. State Government have in the case at hand more than 51% share in the Punjab Financial Corporation, the right to issue any guideline or instruction vests only in the State Government and not in the SIDBI. We, therefore, find it difficult to appreciate how Section 39 can be read to create a relationship of principal and agent between Financial Corporations and SIDBI nor do we see any merit in the contention that Section 39 empowers SIDBI to issue any direction on its own on any policy or other matter.

20. That apart the guidelines issued by the SIDBI themselves make it clear that the Corporations are free to formulate their own One Time Settlement Schemes with suitable modification to suit their peculiar needs. The Guidelines never claimed any binding character for themselves. On the contrary the language employed in the same as is evident from the paragraphs extracted above, leaves no manner of doubt that SIDBI never intended to prevent the Corporation from formulating their own guidelines to suit their peculiar needs. That aspect has been made clear in the communication sent by the SIDBI to the Financial Corporations, a reference to which has been made in the earlier part of this judgment, in which SIDBI has once again reiterated that the guidelines issued by it do not oblige the Corporations to necessarily adopt or follow the same.

21. It was strenuously contended by learned Counsel for the petitioners that the decision of this Court in Civil Writ Petition No. 8260 of 2001 was no longer good law in the light of a recent decision of the Supreme Court in M/s Sardar Associates and Ors. v. Punjab & Sind Bank and Ors. Civil Appeal Nos. 4970-4971 of 2009 dated 31st July, 2009.

22. We have carefully gone through that decision but regret to say that the same has no application to the cases at hand. The Supreme Court was in M/s Sardar Associates' case (supra) dealing with the one time settlement, directions and policy decisions taken by the RBI. The question was whether the said decisions, schemes and directions were binding on the Banking Companies and whether the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal could direct settlement of the outstanding claims on the basis of one time settlement scheme envisaged under the RBI circular. Answering the questions in the affirmative, their Lordships held that the RBI was competent to issue directions and guidelines to Banking Companies in terms of Sections 21 and 35(A) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The Court for that purpose relied on a Constitution Bench judgment delivered by it in Central Bank of India v, Ravindra and Ors. : (2002)1 S.C.C. 367 and the following passage appearing in the said decision:

55. ... (5) The power conferred by Sections 21 and 35-A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 is coupled with duty to act. The Reserve Bank of India is the prime banking institution of the country entrusted with a supervisory role over banking and conferred with the authority of issuing binding directions, having statutory force, in the interest of the public in general and preventing banking affairs from deterioration and prejudice as also to secure the proper management of any banking company generally. The Reserve Bank of India is one of the watchdogs of finance and economy of the nation. It is, and it ought to be, aware of all relevant factors, including credit conditions as prevailing, which would invite its policy decisions. RBI has been issuing directions/circulars from time to time which, inter alia, deal with the rate of interest which can be charged and the periods at the end of which rests can be struck down, interest calculated thereon and charged and capitalised. It should continue to issue such directives. Its circulars shall bind those who fall within the net of such directives. For such transaction which are not squarely governed by such circulars, the RBI directives may be treated as standards for the purpose of deciding whether the interest charged is excessive, usurious or opposed to public policy.

The Court also relied upon its decision in Corporation Bank v. D.S. Gowda and Anr. : (1994)5 S.C.C. 213, extracting with approval the following passage from the said decision:

17. ...As pointed out earlier, under the Banking Regulation Act wide powers are conferred on the Reserve Bank to enable it to exercise effective control over all banks. Sections 21 and 35-A enable it to issue directives in public interest to regulate the charging of interest on loans or advances made from time to time....

23. The Division Bench decision of the Supreme Court in Oriental Bank of Commerce v. Sunder Lal Jain and Anr. : (2008)2 S.C.C. 280 was also noticed by their Lordships but held to be in ignorance of the decision of the Constitution Bench in Ravindra 's case (supra) hence not binding. We may at this stage extract, for facility of reference, the provisions of Sections 21 and 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 not because the said provisions have any application to the cases at hand but to show that unlike the SIDBI Act and the State Financial Corporation Act, Sections 21 and 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 make the directions, circulars and orders issued by the RBI binding upon the Banking Companies:

21. ... Power of Reserve Bank to control advances by banking companies.- (1) Where the Reserve Bank is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient in the public interest or in the interests of depositors or banking policy so to do, it may determine the policy in relation to advances to be followed by banking companies generally or by any banking company in particular, and when the policy has been so determined, all banking companies or the banking company concerned, as the case may be, shall be bound to follow the policy as so determined.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the power vested in the Reserve Bank under Sub-section (1) the Reserve Bank may give directions to banking companies, either generally or to any banking company or group of banking companies in particular, as to - (a) the purposes for which advances may or may not be made,

(b) the margins to be maintained in respect of secured advances,

(c) the maximum amount of advances or other financial accommodation which, having regard to the paid-up capital, reserves and deposits of a banking company and other relevant considerations, may be made by that banking company to any one company, firm, association of persons or individual,

(d) the maximum amount up to which, having regard to the considerations referred to in Clause (c), guarantees may be given by a banking company on behalf of any one company, firm, association of persons or individual, and

(e) the rate of interest and other terms and conditions on which advances or other financial accommodation may be made or guarantees may be given.

(3) Every banking company shall be bound to comply with any directions given to it under this section.

35A. Power of the Reserve Bank to give directions:

(1) Where the Reserve Bank is satisfied that:

(a) in the [public interest]; or

(aa) in the interest of banking policy; or]

(b) to prevent the affairs of any banking company being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the depositors or in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the banking company; or

(c) to secure the proper management of any banking company generally, it is necessary to issue directions to banking companies generally or to any banking company in particular, it may, from time to time, issue such directions as it deems fit, and the banking companies or the banking company, as the case may be, shall be bound to comply with such directions.

(2) The Reserve Bank may, on representation made to it or on its own motion, modify or cancel any direction issued under Sub-section (1), and in so modifying or cancelling any direction may impose such conditions as it thinks fit, subject to which the modification or cancellation shall have effect.]

24. There is no provision under the SIDBI Act, 1989 or under the State Financial Corporation Act, 1951 comparable to the provisions of Sections 21 and 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 extracted above. In the absence of any such analogous provision, it is difficult to see how the rationale underlying the decision of the Supreme Court in Ravindra's case (supra) or M/s Sardar Associates' case (supra) can be called in aid by the petitioners. The answer to the question that arises for our consideration does not lie in the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 but in the State Financial Corporation Act, 1951 and the SIDBI Act both of which do not support the view that the SIDBI has the power to issue any binding directions to the Financial Corporation or that latter is constituted as an agent of the former so as to carry out the instructions issued to it.

25. That brings us to the argument that the Corporation has without proper deliberation, discussion or application of mind rejected the guidelines issued by SIDBI. There is in our opinion no merit even in that contention. If SIDBI has no statutory power to issue guidelines that are binding upon the Corporations and the guidelines themselves permit the Corporations to formulate their own One Time Settlement Schemes to suit their peculiar needs, we find it difficult to see how the Corporation can be accused of having acted unfairly, arbitrarily or in a manner that is insensitive towards larger public interest. That the guidelines were brought before the Corporation and were discussed is evident from the resolution, which the Board of Directors have passed. The resolution extracted in the earlier part of this judgment makes it clear that the Board has recorded reasons why the One Time Settlement Scheme formulated by it is sufficient to meet its requirement. There is nothing irrational or perverse in those reasons to call for our intervention in exercise of our extraordinary jurisdiction. The criticism leveled against the Corporation's decision is, therefore, wholly uncalled for and unfounded.

26. That leaves us with the submission that the Corporation's affairs are not being run properly and necessitate an enquiry to bring out the malpractices prevalent in the management. The allegation made by the petitioners has remained unsubstantiated. Apart from a bald assertion that the kith and kin of the Corporation's high ups had purchased the property put to sale by the Corporation to recover its dues, nothing worthwhile has been placed on record to prove any such assertion. The Corporation has a significant role to play in the economy of the State. It has to promote industrialization of the region by providing requisite financial assistance to the deserving entrepreneurs. It will certainly feel handicapped in the discharge of its duties if borrowers like the petitioners not only default in repayment of the amount borrowed by them but also engage the Corporation in multiple rounds of litigation. On account of the pendency of these proceedings the Corporation has been prevented from recovering its dues by sale of the properties lawfully mortgaged with it. It is note worthy that none of the petitioners has offered to deposit in the course of the hearing even a part of the amount outstanding against them to show their bona fides. The present proceedings are, therefore, an abuse of the legal process at the hands of those, who have been in default for years and years together.

27. In the result these writ petitions fail and are hereby dismissed with costs assessed at Rs. 5,000/- in each petition. The costs shall be deposited by the petitioners with the Punjab and Haryana High Court Legal Services Committee for being spent on legal aid programmes of the said Committee.

28. Before pronouncement of this order, petitioner in CWP No. 18526 of 2003 filed CM No. 14812 of 2009 pointing out that the petitioner in that petition has arrived at a settlement with the Corporation rendering the writ petition infructuous and seeking permission to withdraw the same. All that we need say in that regard is that the dismissal of the writ petition by this order shall not prevent the parties to the same from negotiating and/or giving effect to any mutually agreeable settlement. Civil Miscellaneous is accordingly disposed of with that observation.


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