At, Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal At Chennai
By, THE HONORABLE JUSTICE: A. SUBBULAKSHMY. (CHAIRPERSON)
1. Aggrieved against the Order passed by the DRT-I, Chennai, in allowing the petition for amendment of the plaint, the appeal is directed.
2. The applicant Bank filed a petition IA-1729/2000 in TA-75/98 for amendment of the plaint stating that the 5th defendant has created equitable mortgage of the property situated at Trivandrum Corporation in favour of the Bank by deposit of title deeds at Trivandrum Branch on 24.2.1992 but while filing suit by the Bank that property was not included in the Suit since the Sub-Court, Trivellore, did not have territorial jurisdiction under Section 16(C) of the CPC for passing mortgage decree as against the said property and as the suit has been transferred to this Tribunal and the Tribunal having excessive territorial jurisdiction for that property also, this amendment petition is now filed to include that property in the Original Application (OA) as set out in the amendment petition.
3. The appellant defendant filed counter that the Tribunal has not been conferred power for allowing the amendment in pleadings of the parties and the DRT has no power to allow the amendment. The learned PO, DRT-I, allowed that petition, and directed the Bank to carry the necessary amendment.
4. Learned Counsel appearing for the appellant defendant contends that the suit in the Sub-Court, Trivellore, was filed in the year 1993 and the amendment petition has been filed before the DRT in the year 1999 and the petition having been filed after six years it is barred by limitation. He further contends that the DRT is not empowered to amend the plaint since the provisions of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDB&FI) Act, 1993 (the Act) did not confer any power on the PO, DRT for amendment of the plaint.
5. Counsel for the respondent Bank submitted that since originally the suit was filed in the Sub-Court, Trivellore, which Court was not having jurisdiction over the property mentioned in the amendment petition that property could not be included in that suit and as the suit has been transferred to DRT, now the amendment petition is filed for inclusion of that property in the OA and as this property has been mortgaged in favour of the Bank for this loan it is just and necessary that this property should be included in the OA and the amendment has to be allowed. The learned PO, DRT-I, allowed the petition holding that the DRT is governed by the principles of natural justice and it can regulate its own procedures and the DRT has power beyond the scope of CPC in order to provide natural justice following the decision of the Supreme Court.
6. Since originally the suit was filed before the Sub-Court as the property does not lie within that jurisdiction this property was not included in that suit. After the matter was transferred to DRT, the Bank has filed this amendment application for inclusion of this property. The significant factor is that the property was mortgaged to the Bank for the borrowing. Interests of justice requires that in connection with the borrowings, property mortgaged to the Bank have to be included in the OA. Simply because that properly was not originally included in the suit cannot be taken advantage of now by the defendant and the defendant cannot contend that the property which was not originally included in the suit cannot be included now in this OA before the DRT. The DRT is bound by the provisions under the Act.
7. Section 22 of the RDDB&FI Act states that the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down by the CPC but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. The principles of natural justice imply that all the properties mortgaged to the Bank in connection with the borrowing have to be included in the OA for the realization of the amount. That property could not be included in the suit for want of territorial jurisdiction. After the matter is transferred to DRT that property can be included for having proper adjudication in that matter. Since the Act itself specifically states that the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal shall be guided by the principles of natural justice it can be safely concluded that this property which was not included in the suit for want of jurisdiction can be included in this OA for having proper adjudication in this matter.
8. The object of the Act itself is for effecting speedy recovery of dues due to the Bank by applying the natural principles and not resorting to the provisions of the CPC. So what all remedies available have to be brought in the original application, the property which has to be mortgaged to the Bank has to be included in the OA for recovery of dues due to the Bank.
9. There are catena of decisions to the effect that amendment of plaint can be allowed at any stage of the suit under Order 6 Rule 17, CPC. Counsel for the appellant submits that CPC is not applicable to the case under the DRT and so Order 6 Rule 17 cannot be applied and the amendment cannot be allowed. The Supreme Court in AIR 1969 SC 1257 has held that amendment of plaint not to be refused on technical grounds. On a perusal of Section 22 of the Act it is evident that the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down by the CPC but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. So it is clear that the principles of natural justice have to be applied and that it is beyond the scope of CPC. Applying the principles of natural justice the property which has been mortgaged to the Bank for the borrowing has to be included in the OA. The suit had been transferred to the DRT which matter is pending before the DRT. The amendment sought for before the DRT dates back to the date of the plaint and so it also not barred by limitation. The property which has been mortgaged to the Bank has to be included in the OA and only that is sought for to be included by way of this amendment. In the interests of justice I feel that the amendment can be allowed and the learned PO, DRT-I, has rightly allowed this petition.
10. Counsel for the appellant further submits that under Rule 23 of the DRT (Procedure) Rules, 1993 only the Registrar has power to direct formal amendment of records at the time of filing the plaint and the Presiding Officer is not empowered to order amendment of the plaint. As I have already indicated, under the principles of natural justice the Presiding Officer is entitled to order amendment if it is just and necessary for the facts and circumstances applying the principles of natural justice.
11. For the foregoing discussions I hold that the contentions raised by the Counsel for the appellant are wholly untenable. I find no infirmity in the order passed by the learned PO, DRT, Chennai.
12. Appeal dismissed.