KOWA SPINNING LTD Vs. STATE BANK OF INDORE
DEBTS RECOVERY APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
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(1.) THIS appeal has been preferred against the order dated 5th November, 2001 passed by the then Presiding Officer, D.R.T., Jabalpur in Original Application No. 300/2000, whereby the prayer for cross-examination of the witnesses of the Bank has been rejected. There seems to be chequered history in the case. After the respondent-State Bank of Indore filed the original application for recovery of Rs. 2,32,37,557/-, the appellant-borrowers had appeared and filed their written statement. Their main contention was that the signature of the borrowers were taken on blank forms and documents by the respondent-Bank and that the accounts started before the date of the application of the appellants for the loan or the date of sanction of the loan. In support of the original application the respondent Bank had submitted affidavits of witnesses by way of evidence in support of the contention made in the original application. The appellants had claimed that the affidavits in evidence which have been filed for and on behalf of the respondent Bank should not be read as evidence until and unless the appellants have been given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses of the Bank: Such contention of the appellants was considered by the Tribunal and then rejected the same vide order dated 8th January, 2001 by an elaborate order refusing the prayer of the appellant for cross-examination of the witnesses and such rejection was made with a cost of Rs. 5000/-. Against that order the appellants went to the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh in writ petition No. 660/01 .whereby writ petition was rejected as per the order and observation made in the previous writ petition filed by Kishori Lal Lamba & Sons in writ petition No. 5262/2000. Again the appellants had filed a petition for allowing them to cross-examine the witness and to give them opportunity to file their evidence in opposition by way of counter affidavit. The same have been rejected stating that the appellants were making all efforts to delay the proceedings and even they had not deposited the cost which was imposed upon them by the order dated 8th January, 2001. The said order was challenged again before the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh which was ultimately taken by a Full Bench along with other similar petitions for considering the main point regarding maintainability of the appeal against the interlocutory orders. The said writ petition has been disposed of by the Full Bench by making several observations and in such observation No. D it has been mentioned that if a prayer for cross-examination is made in accordance with Regulation 32 of the Regulations, D.R.T. may entertain the same, if the circumstances so warrant. In that writ petition, it was also observed that the normal procedure regarding adjudication of Civil Suit could not be applicable under the statute i.e. D.R.T. Act and blanket prayer for cross-examination of the witnesses cannot be allowed and in rare cases the same may be allowed by the Presiding Officer, D.R.T., if satisfactory/proper grounds could be shown. The liberty was also given in that writ petition to prefer the appeal against the interlocutory order, if the same is filed within time-frame, then the present appeal has been preferred and limitation was condoned in view of the observations made by the Hon'ble M.P. High Court in the writ petition referred to.
(2.) From the materials on record, it appears that this matter of cross-examination being raised by the appellants again and again before the Tribunal. At the very first instance, the same was rejected with specific grounds and reasoning's vide order dated 8th January, 2001, but then again the same has been agitated which has been disposed of by the impugned order dated 5th November, 2001. The contention of the appellants before this Tribunal is that the previous issues as decided vide order dated 8th January, 2001 were not the issue regarding cross-examination of witnesses. I fail to understand to such submissions in the previous issues. It was the contention of the appellant that the evidence of the witnesses of the Bank filed by way of affidavit shall not be taken as evidence as per the provisions of the RDDBFI Act (unless those witnesses are being cross-examined and the grounds of cross-examination have been considered elaborately by the learned Tribunal in the order dated 8th January, 2001 and held that such grounds as sought for the purpose of cross-examination are not entertainable and applicable in the present circumstances of the case and as such the plea was rejected by imposing a cost of Rs. 5000/-. But instead of paying the cost, the appellants again moved a petition directly praying for cross-examination of the witnesses and their contention before the Tribunal was that in the previous application, they have not prayed directly for cross-examination of the witnesses of the Bank, rather they prayed for non-acceptance of those affidavits as evidence unless being cross-examined. The contention remains the same. The affidavits filed by the Bank's employees in support of the original application were for the purpose of accepting them as evidence but the same acceptance was challenged on the ground that they should be cross-examined first and the same has been rejected by order dated 8th January, 2001. But the same plea has been taken again now directly praying for cross-examination of witnesses of the Bank, which was the via media contention in the earlier application, which was disposed of on 8th January, 2001. Practically the appellants are trying to play tactics only to delay the proceedings. If the documents are already there as filed by the Bank to the effect that sanction of loan is post-dated and application of the appellants are post-dated, then the Bank is to explain the same and primary burden remains with the appellants to prove that they have signed blank documents when it cannot be construed by prudent man that a literate person would sign papers and documents without reading the same. Be it what it may, the first order dated 8th January, 2001 although challenged before the Hon'ble High Court was never appealed against and the subsequent order dated 5th November, 2001 was tried to be challenged again before the Hon'ble High Court, but that has also not been entertained and then the present appeal has been filed.
Practically grounds of cross-examination as has been taken by the appellants are no grounds at all because the borrowers generally take the plea that they have signed blank documents as already stated above, in the circumstances the burden lies on the persons, who contend so. The borrowers always try to delay the proceedings by filing petition after petitions. In the present case, it appears that the appellants in the present case are frivolously trying to delay the proceedings and they could be able to delay it for long five years. The reasonings given in the impugned order rejecting the prayer of cross-examination and also in the previous order dated 8th January, 2001 are sound and satisfactory. There is nothing to interfere with the same. The appeal is rejected having no force in it. I t is further made clear that if the cost imposed by order dated 8th January, 2001 has already been deposited and if not deposited and if it is deposited within 15 days next from this order with the Tribunal, then the appellants may be given a single chance to file their affidavit in evidence for countering claim. With this observation, appeal is rejected. Stay order passed earlier is hereby vacated.;
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