State Bank of Saurashtra

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APEX COURT UPHELD THAT THE SUIT FILED BY NATIONAL HOUSING BANK UNDER SPECIAL ACT ENACTED FOR PURPOSE OF HARSHAD S. MEHTA , IS ONLY AN EYE WASH =The entire scandal and the present litigation revolves around the second defendant (since deceased) – one Harshad S. Mehta (a notified person under Section 3(2) of the Act). The scandal exposes the shortcomings and loopholes in the administration of banking sector of this country, more particularly, the State-owned/controlled banks. 6. The National Housing Bank (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Plaintiff’) a statutory Corporation created by an Act of Parliament (Act No. 53 of 1987) filed two suits, one invoking the original jurisdiction of Bombay High Court (Suit No. 211 of 1995) and another before the Special Court established under the Act No. 27 of 1992 being Suit No. 2 of 1995. The said suits came to be filed against (i) the State Bank of Saurashtra which at that point of time was a subsidiary bank of the State Bank of India but later got amalgamated with the State Bank of India, (ii) Harshad S. Mehta, (iii) two of the employees of the plaintiff bank and (iv) the Custodian appointed under Section 3(1) of the Act 27 of 1992.= No oral evidence from plaintiff side except filing some documents – At the time when these documents were being tendered it was clarified to all parties that mere tendering of documents would only establish that there was in existence such a document and that it stated what is stated. It was clarified that the contents of the documents would not be deemed to have been proved. It was clarified that any party who wanted to prove the truth of the contents had to do so by positive evidence. As stated above, except for 2nd Defendant, no other party has led any oral evidence.”; Janakiraman Committee Report – not admissible = The Special Court Act though declares that the Court is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, it does not relieve the Special Court from the obligation to follow the Evidence Act. Further, the learned Judge extensively relied upon the second interim report of the Jankiraman Committee[11] on the ground that the same was tendered[12] by the 1st defendant. 51. Irrespective of the fact whether such a report is admissible in evidence or not, = It is well settled by a long line of judicial authority that the findings of even a statutory Commission appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 are not enforceable proprio vigore as held in Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S.R. Tendolkar and Others [AIR 1958 SC 538] and the statements made before such Commission are expressly made inadmissible in any subsequent proceedings civil or criminal. In our considered view the report of Janakiraman Committee is not evidence within the meaning of Evidence Act; There is absolutely no evidence on record regarding the payment of the above mentioned amount of Rs.55 crores (approx.) by the plaintiff-Bank to the Standard Chartered Bank except the Janakiraman Committee Report and the correspondence which is neither proved nor the content of the correspondence is explained. On the other hand, the Special Court recorded[17] with respect to the payment of Rs.55 crores (approx.) to the Standard Chartered Bank by the plaintiff – “In the plaintiff’s record there is no clear indication as to for what transaction this cheque had been issued. The plaintiffs were, therefore, not sure for what this cheque had been issued.” 62. In the background of the above discussed pleadings and evidence, we are of the opinion the suit is required to be dismissed on the ground that there is no evidence led by the plaintiff to establish its case. ; suppression of material facts = We must also record our disapproval of the finding recorded by the Special Court that the plaintiff did not suppress the truth. We are of the opinion that the plaintiff approached the Special Court with unclean hands by suppressing the relevant material. We shall first discuss the nature of the suppression and then examine the legal consequences that should follow.= The whole attempt of both the banks is to shield the officers on either side taking refuge under attractive legal pleas – which if examined in the context of the limited facts pleaded give a picture that the suit transaction is an innocuous transaction which unfortunately for the country is not. In our opinion the suit is a sheer abuse of the legal process.= both the plaintiff and respondent Banks simply reiterated their respective stands before the Committee of Secretaries. No attempt appears to have been made by the Government to find out the truth as to (1) how the plaintiff Bank parted with a high denomination cheque and gave custody of the same to Harshad Mehta and (2) as to how the first defendant Bank paid the various amounts to the dictation of Harshad Mehta in the absence of any authorisation by the plaintiff Bank. Be that as it may, if really the Government believed that the judgment of the Special Court does not require any interference, nothing stopped the Government from directing both the Banks to withdraw their appeals before this Court. 74. The whole exercise appears to be an eye wash. A thinly veiled scorn for the orders of this Court.= The professed purpose of the Special Courts Act – the back drop of the scandal that shook the nation – and the manner in which the litigation was conducted coupled with the absolute indifference of the Government to get at the truth only demonstrates the duplicity with which Governments can act. 76. We dismiss the suit and set aside the decree in toto. The consequences follow insofar as the appeals are concerned. But in the circumstances, we do not award any costs.

published in     http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40614  Reportable IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2155 OF 1999 State Bank of India Thr. General Manager …Appellant Versus National Housing Bank & Ors. …Respondents WITH CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2294 OF 1999 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3647 OF 1999 J U D G M E N … Continue reading

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