At, Supreme Court of India
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ASHOK BHUSHAN
For the Appellants: Mayur R. Shah, Debasis Misra, Advocates. For the Respondent: D.K. Mishra, B.P. Yadav, Sarla Chandra, Advocates.
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
Delay condoned. Leave granted.
2. This appeal is filed against the final judgment and order dated 04.03.2014 passed by the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad in L.P.A. No. 542 of 2013 in Special Civil Application No. 1516 of 2013 whereby the Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the LPA filed by the appellants challenging the judgment and order dated 27.02.2013 passed by the Single Judge in Special Civil Application No. 1516 of 2013.
3. In order to appreciate the short controversy involved in the appeal, few relevant facts need mention infra.
4. The respondent is a Co-operative Bank registered under the provisions of Gujarat Co-operative Societies Act, 1961 (in short "The Act"). The appellants are the members of the respondent- Bank.
5. The respondent-Bank gave loan of Rs. 2,00,000/- to the appellants on 04.10.1996. To secure the loan amount, the appellants executed promissory notes (Ex-P-28 & 32) and guarantee deed in respondent's favour. Since the appellants committed defaults and failed to repay the entire loan amount, the respondent-Bank filed a suit against the appellants for recovery of Rs. 4,23,431.75 (principal and interest) in the Court of Registrar, Board of Nominee being Case No. 2806 of 2002. The respondent also claimed interest on the said amount at the rate of 24% p.a.
6. The appellants contested the suit and inter alia contended that they are not the members of the Respondent-Bank and hence the dispute filed in the Court of Registrar under the provisions of the Act is not maintainable and it should be filed in regular civil court.
7. Parties adduced the evidence. The respondent- Bank proved through their witnesses the membership register of the Bank (Ex-P27), promissory notes(Ex-P-28/32), guarantee deed, account statements(Ex-P-36 ) and other documents. The appellant in rebuttal could not adduce any satisfactory evidence.
8. By judgment and decree, dated 26.09.2012, the Registrar decreed the respondent's suit and passed a money decree against the appellant for a sum of Rs. 4,23,431 along with interest at the rate of 24% p.a.. It was held that the appellants are the members of the respondent-Bank and, therefore, the dispute could be filed in the Court of Registrar against them for realization of the loan amount. It was also held that the appellants had taken the loan from the respondent-Bank and they failed to repay as agreed.
9. The appellants, felt aggrieved, filed appeal before the Tribunal being Appeal No. 1031 of 2003. The Tribunal by order dated 26.09.2012 partly allowed the appeal only to the extent that it reduced the rate of interest from 24% to 21%. In other words, the appellate Court only modified the decree by reducing the rate of interest from 24% to 21% payable on the decreetal sum. All other findings of the Registrar were upheld.
10. The appellants, felt aggrieved, filed special civil application under Article 227 of the Constitution of India being No. 1516 of 2013 in the High Court of Gujarat. The learned Single Judge dismissed the application by order dated 27.02.2013 and upheld the appellate order of the Tribunal.
11. The appellants still not being satisfied pursued the matter further in intra court appeal being L.P.A. No. 542 of 2013 before the Division Bench of the High Court. By impugned order, the Division Bench dismissed the appeal as not maintainable.
12. Felt aggrieved the appellants have preferred this appeal by way of special leave to appeal.
13. Heard learned counsel for the parties.
14. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we are of the considered opinion that no case is made out to interfere in the concurrent findings of the facts recorded by the courts below. The High Court was, therefore, justified in upholding the Tribunal's order on all the material issues on facts.
15. We also find, on perusal of the orders passed by the Registrar and the order of the Tribunal in appeal, that the respondent-Bank rightly held to have proved their case fully by adducing adequate evidence whereas the appellants were not able to adduce any evidence in rebuttal. We thus find no good ground to interfere in the well reasoned findings of the Courts below.
16. We are, however, inclined to modify the impugned judgment/decree insofar as it relates to rate of interest awarded by the Tribunal. In our opinion, having regard to the totality of facts and circumstances and as rightly argued by the learned counsel for the appellant, the rate of interest should have been 14% instead of 21% p.a. payable from the date of filing of the dispute till recovery. In other words, in our opinion, the Courts below should have awarded interest at t
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he rate of 14% on the decreetal sum payable from the date of filing of the dispute before the Registrar till its recovery. 17. In the light of foregoing discussion, the appeal succeeds and is allowed in part. The decree dated 26.09.2012 passed by the Registrar in Civil Suit No. 2806/2002 is modified to the extent that it shall carry interest at the rate of 14% on the decreetal sum as awarded by the Registrar. The appellants are granted six months time as an outer limit to pay the entire decreetal sum to the respondent-Bank.