1. I have heard the Counsel for the applicants/appellants and the CH Bank.
2. The Certificate Debtors of this case, who have filed an appeal against the final order passed by the DRT in Bank’s case under Section 19 of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (‘RDDBFI Act’ in short) have filed IA No. 674/2016 for punishing the Recovery Officer attached to DRT-I, Delhi (on deputation) and also the Certificate Holder Bank and its officer Shri Satish Chand for their having defied the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by this Appellate Tribunal in their Appeal (being Appeal No. 215/2015)
3. After issuance of a recover/certificate in the Bank’s O.A. on 5.3.2015 for a sum of Rs.62,52,261.97 with interest @ 12.50% p.a. w.e.f. 20.5.1994, recovery proceedings were initiated by the Recovery Officer and he was proceeding to sell one mortgaged property of the CDs/appellants. To save that asset being sold the CDs moved an application in their Appeal No 215/2015) for stay of sale proceedings in respect of their mortgaged property. In the appeal the learned Chairperson of DRAT, Allahabad, who was holding additional charge of DRAT, Delhi at that time because of the Chairperson of DRAT, Delhi having demitted office upon the expiry of his tenure, had passed the following order on 19.5.2016:
'Learned Counsel for the appellants has filed an urgency application and the application for stay supported with the affidavit of the appellant No. 2.
The present appeal has been filed by the appellants under Section 20 of the RDDBFI Act, 1993 against the order dated 3.3.2015 passed by the DRT-I, Delhi in Original Application No. 711995, wherein the Original Application filed by the respondent No. l-Bank was allowed and the appellants were directed to pay sum of Rs.61,94,043.97 together with pendente lite and future interest @12.50% per annum.
Learned Counsel for the appellants submits that in this matter, the waiver application was decided by this Tribunal on 13.7.2015.
Learned Counsel for the appellants submitted that vide impugned order dated 3.3.2015, the learned DRT below had also directed the respondent-Bank to file revised statement of account before the Recovery Officer after giving due adjustment of the amount deposited by the appellants. It was further contended that the respondent Bank did not file revised statement of account before the Recovery Officer and the Recovery Officer, DRT-I, Delhi vide order dated 4.5.2016 is taking steps for sate of the property in question without statement of account from the Bank and has also not given due adjustment of the amount deposited by the appellants. It was prayed by the appellants that the order dated 4.5.2016 passed by the Recovery Officer, DRT-I, Delhi be stayed.
Learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank submits that he wants to file reply to the stay application filed by the appellants.
Heard the learned Counsel for the parties and perused the record of the case.
In the facts and circumstances of the case as enumerated above and in the interest of Justice, I deem it just and proper to direct the respondent-Bank not to take any coercive steps against the appellants till next date.
List this case for further hearing on 4.8.2016 as jointly prayed.'
4. After passing of the order on 4.5.2016, which was challenged by the CDs in appeal, the Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit, the recovery matter was adjourned to 6.7.2016. On 6.7.2016 neither Counsel for the CH Bank nor Counsel for the CDS (appellants herein) appeared before the Recovery Officer. The reason appears to be that both were under the impression that recovery proceedings stood stayed by DRAT vide its order dated 19.5.2016 and that appears to be so from the fact that on 1.8.2016, which was only a couple of days before the actual date of hearing in the appeal which was on 4.8.2016 the Bank had moved an application before this Tribunal, by which time also no Chairperson of DRAT Delhi had been appointed, for vacation of the stay granted in favour of the CDs on 19.5.2016 by DRAT, Allahabad having additional charge of Delhi DRAT also. That application was however not got listed before DRAT at Allahabad immediately and so it remained pending and both the Bank and CDs remained under the impression that stay granted by DRAT was continuing. When the matter was taken up by the Recovery Officer on 5:9.2016 Counsel for the CDs had placed on record the copy of order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT and Counsel for the CH Bank had also submitted that the order of DRAT restraining the Bank from taking any coercive steps against the CDs was till the next date which was 19.9.2016, which date was fixed by the Registrar on 4.8.20 16 as by that date also no Chairperson had been appointed for Delhi DRAT, and, therefore, the matter was adjourned to 22.9.2016 which date obviously appears to have been given to await further orders of DRAT to be passed on 19.9.2016 in Appeal No. 215/2016. However, on 19.9.2016, by which date I had taken over as the Chairperson of Delhi DRAT, no proceedings took place since I had gone to Chandigarh to hold camp Court there and accordingly the appeal stood adjourned to 28.10.2016.
5. In the meanwhile, when the matter was taken up by the Recovery Officer on 22.9.2016 a submission, which was contrary to the earlier stand taken by the CH Bank-before the Recovery Officer, that there was stay against taking of coercive steps against the CDs, was made by the Counsel for the Bank that the DRAT had not restrained the Recovery Officer from proceeding with recovery proceedings and only the Bank was restrained. The Counsel appearing for the CDs had, however, submitted before the Recovery Officer that in case any action is taken qua the property in question which was sought to be sold that will amount to contempt of the order of the DRAT, Delhi. Then after perusing the order dated 19.5.2016 of this Tribunal and extracting the same in his proceedings Recovery Officer decided to proceed further and observed as under in his proceedings of that date:
'In my considered opinion Hon’ble DRAT, Delhi has not granted any stay against the recovery proceedings and only the Bank has been directed not to take any coercive action against the CDs and as such there is no direction to this Forum. Direction of Hon’ble DRAT is only qua the CDs and not qua the mortgaged property. Since Hon’ble DRAT has not stayed the recovery proceedings before this Forum it is considered appropriate to initiate action against the sale of mortgaged property for the recovery of dues under this R.C.'
6. Thereafter, the Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit ordered issuance of notice for settling terms of sale of the mortgaged property, etc. and the matter was adjourned to 13.10.2016 on which date no proceedings took place before the Recovery Officer and the matter was adjourned to 16.11.2016. In the meanwhile when the appeal was listed before me on 28.10.2016 for the first time the Counsel for the CDs/appellants had sought time to argue its application for vacation of stay granted on 19.5.2016 and matter was adjourned to 17.11.2016. On that date Counsel for the CH Bank did not submit that there was no need of taking up stay vacation application since-it had already become infructuous because of stay having not been extended by the Appellate Tribunal. Next date in the appeal was then fixed for 17.11.2016 for arguments in the main appeal of the COs. That shows that since this Tribunal was fixing the date for final hearing the appeal itself Counsel for Bank must not have considered it appropriate to insist at that time for hearing Bank’s application for vacation of stay granted on 19.5.2016 first before hearing the arguments in the main appeal.
7. The Recovery Officer on 7.12.2016 in view of his earlier interpretation of the order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT that order did not restrain him from proceeding further passed an order directing the COs to co-operate in the preparation of valuation report of their property which was being sold since the CH Bank had sought pol ice aid for that purpose and adjourned the matter to 14.12.2016.
8. Apprehending that the Recovery Officer may not issue directions to the police against them the COs moved an application dated 8.12.2006 (being I.A. No. 674/2016), which is now under consideration before this Tribunal, to proceed against the Recovery Officer and the State Bank of Patiala (original CH) and its officer Mr. Satish Chand, who had sought police aid from Recovery Officer on 7.12.2016, for defying the stay order dated 19.5.2016 of the DRAT thereby committing contempt of this Appellate Tribunal. That application was taken up for consideration by this Tribunal on 9.12.2016 when the following order was passed:
'Today, at the outset, the learned Counsel for the appellants submits that before the appeal is taken up for hearing on merit, she would like this Tribunal to first deal with the contempt application which the appellants have moved, which was necessitated because of the fact that despite the fact that this Tribunal had passed an order on 19.5.2016 directing the CH Bank not to take any coercive steps against the appellants, the R.O., in flagrant violation of that order, has directed issuance of sale proclamation in respect of the property in question by observing that the stay order of this Tribunal was against the Bank and not against the R.O.
This grievance raised on behalf of the appellants is very serious if what has been said is correct. Therefore, before proceeding any further in the matter today, I direct the Registry to obtain the record of the R.O. pertaining to R.C. No. 27/2015.
Re-notify on 20.12.2016. Till then, all further proceedings before the R.O. will stand stayed.'
9. On 20.12.2016 the following order was passed:
'Record of the Recovery officer attached to DRT-I, Delhi has been received. Counsel for the appellants shall inspect the file and flag the relevant pages which show the Recovery Officer had intentionally disobeyed the order of this Tribunal.
Re-notify on 28.12.2016'.
10. Then on 28.12.2016 the following order was passed in the appeal:
'IA. No. 674/2016
Today, Counsel or the appellants has submitted that this is a clear case of intentional disobedience of the stay order passed by this Tribunal not only by the Recovery Officer but also by the Bank. It is submitted that it being a serious matter, this issue should be decided before proceeding to dispose of the appeal on merits.'
11. After hearing further the Counsel for the contempt applicants this Tribunal passed the following order on 188.8.131.52:
'IA. No. 674/2016
This is an application moved by the appellants seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Recovery Officer, Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit attached to DRT-I, Delhi as well as one Bank Official Mr. Satish Chand who is alleged to have sought Police aid from the Recovery officer despite this Tribunal having passed stay order on 19.5.2016. Learned Counsel has submitted that the Recovery Officer is total disregard to the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by this Tribunal intentionally gave a total unsustainable interpretation in his order dated 22.9.2016 that this Tribunal had only restrained the Bank from taking any coercive action against the CDs and there was no stay against Recovery Officer to proceed with the recovery proceedings and after observing so he went on to proceed further with the recovery proceedings by directing the Bank to submit valuation report etc.; and the Bank, which had already moved an application before this Tribunal for vacation of the stay granted on 19.5.2016, decided to obey the command of the Recovery Officer and not of this Tribunal by going ahead with the preparation of the valuation report but when the appellants resisted that attempt in view of the stay order in their favour the Bank sought Police aid.
Issue notice on this application to the Recovery Officer, Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit attached to DRT-T, Delhi to respond to allegations made in this application.
Issue notice of this application to the Bank and Mr. Satish Chand, Bank’s Manager (SAMB Branch, Second Floor, NBCC Place, Bhishma Patamah Marg, New Delhi) requiring them also to respond to this application.
However, since the appeal in any case has to be heard on merits and mere issuance of notice on this application should not stall that hearing, it is ordered that a separate file be prepared in respect of I.A. No. 6784/2016 in which a copy of today’s proceedings will be kept and further proceedings shall take place in that file. The Registry shall give separate miscellaneous number to that file showing the same to be a ‘contempt application’.
This matter shall now be taken upon 5.1.2017. Replies can be filed on the said date.
Appeal No. 21512015
Though hearing in the appeal also commenced today but had to be deferred since the record to the DRT had not been ordered to be obtained. Let the record of the O.A. No. 07/1995 be now obtained for the next date i.e. 5.1.2017.'
12. The Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit submitted his response dated 4.1.2017 in a sealed cover which was opened by this Tribunal. The contents of his reply are re-produced below:
1. It is submitted that I am in receipt of contempt notice issued by Hon’ble DRAT which was received by me on 30.12.2016.
1. I deeply regret and most humbly tender my unconditional and unqualified apology to Hon’ble DRT for purported disobedience/contempt of the order dated 19.5.2016 of the Hon’ble DRAT. It is most respectfully submitted that further averments in this reply are solely in order to most humbly set out the facts and bring to the gracious notice of Hon’ble DRAT and not by way of justification or explanation.
3. It is submitted with greatest humility that I have always had the deepest and highest regard for Hon’ble DRAT and have always ensured the compliance of all the orders of Hon’ble DRAT in true spirit.
4. Sir, that the operative part of the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by Hon’ble DRAT reads as below:
'Learned Counsel for the appellants submitted that vide order dated 3.3.2015, the learned DRT below had also directed the respondent Bank to file revised statement of account before the Recovery Officer after giving due adjustment of the amount deposited by appellants. It was further contended that the respondent Bank did not file revised statement of account before Recovery Officer and Recovery Officer, DRT-I, Delhi vide order dated 4.5.2016 is taking steps for sale of the property in question without statement of account from the Bank and has also not given due adjustment of the amount deposited by the appellants. It was prayed by the appellants that the order dated 4.5.2016 passed by the Recovery Officer, DRT-I, Delhi be stayed.
Learned Counsel for the respondent Bank submitted that he wants to file reply to the stay application filed by the appellants.
In the facts and circumstances of the case enumerated above and in the interest of justice, I deem just and proper to direct the respondent Bank not to take any coercive steps against the appellants till next date.'
5. Hon’ble Sir, it is most respectfully submitted that I was not aware of the application dated 1.8.2016 before of Hon’ble DRAT, filed by the respondent Bank for vacation of said stay granted vide order dated 19.5.2016. In this context, it is submitted that on 22.9.2016 the CH Bank submitted before this Forum that Hon’ble DRAT has not restrained the Recovery Officer on continuation of the recovery proceedings and further this Hon’ble Court has restrained only the CH Bank from taking any coercive action against the Certificate Debtors and not for this Forum.
6. Hon’ble Sir, I after perusing the orders of Hon’ble DRAT has inadvertently interpreted the orders of Hon’ble DRAT that the recovery proceedings are not stayed by Hon’ble DRAT. It is humbly submitted that I was not having any intention to dishonour the directions given by the Hon’ble DRAT.
7. Sir, I have no intention to show any disrespect or dishonour to Hon’ble DRAT and the direction issued vide order dated 22.9.2016 emanated due to inadvertence and on the request of the CH Bank. The disobedience as alleged by the applicant was unintentional and under the foregoing circumstances.
8. Hon’ble Sir, I hold always Hon’ble DRAT in great respect and esteem honour and prays to Hon’ble DRAT to graciously be pleased to accept my humble apology.'
13. The Bank also responded by filing its reply dated 13.1.2017 supported by one affidavit of Mr. Satish Chand, Manager of State Bank of Patiala. In that reply the Bank had taken the plea that since the stay order granted by this Tribunal was only till the next date of hearing the same became inoperative after 4.8.20 16 in view of the judgment dated 23.8.2007 of the Hon’ble Apex Court rendered in Civil Appeal No. 324/2007, Ashok Kumar & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Anr. It was further submitted in the reply that the Bank had filed one application for vacation of stay granted by this Tribunal vide I.A. No. 418/2016 on 1.8.2016 became infructuous since this Tribunal had not passed any order for extending the stay granted on 19.5.2016 on or after 4.8.2016. It was also pleaded that in fact the Bank not aware of the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by DRAT. It was also pleaded if at all contempt action was to be taken it could be taken only against the Recovery Officer who had directed the Bank on 22.9.2016 to file valuation report of the property to be sold after interpreting the DRAT order dated 19.5.2016 (copy which as per the case of Bank as well as CDs had been placed on record of the Recovery Officer on 6.7.2016) that it had not restrained him from proceeding with recovery proceedings and also that the Bank was under obligation not to violate the orders of Recovery Officer. Another plea taken was that this Tribunal had taken cognizance of contempt application without considering the conduct of the COs in filing fabricated documents in O.A. because of which the Bank lad moved an application (M.A. No. 55/2016) orders on which had been reserved by the ORT Section 340, Cr.P.C. and 195, IPC. After taking these pleas in the reply which was supported by affidavit of Mr. Satish Chand the Bank subsequently filed another short affidavit of Shri Satish Chand dated 2.8.2017 in which he stated that 'in case this Hon’ble Tribunal is of the view that the deponent Bank acted in disobedience of the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by this Hon’ble Tribunal the deponent himself and on behalf of the respondent Bank tendered unconditional apology before this Hon’ble Tribunal and prays for considering the same sympathetically.'
14. The Recovery Officer after submitting his reply to contempt application did not appear before this Tribunal either personally or through any Advocate perhaps for the reason that he had tendered ‘unconditional apology’ to this Tribunal in his reply to the contempt application. I have accordingly considered the submissions made by the learned Counsel for the applicants/appellants and the CH Bank and Mr. Satish Chand, Bank’s officer. I have examined the matter from different angles in view of the stands which the Bank and the Recovery Officer have been taking at different stages of this litigation and I have unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that the CH Bank, its officer Mr. Satish Chand as well as the Recovery Officer had shown the audacity to claim, though not in so many clear words but in their own language, as projected in the proceedings of the Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit on 22.9.2016 and from which there can be no other inference except that they wanted to convey to everyone was that DRATs are in fact toothless paper tigers and their orders could be flouted easily and particularly by the Recovery Officers. In fact some Recovery Officers attached to DRTs in Delhi have been harbouring under the notion that they are supreme as Recovery Officers and their Appellate Tribunal should not interfere in their functioning as their Courts are their private fiefdom where no authority can peep into and interfere in whatever orders they pass. Recently this Tribunal had passed orders in two matters in exercise of powers under Section 19(25) of RDDBFI Act shattering the myth which hitherto before was being nurtured not only by the litigants appearing before the DRAT but also by the Recovery Officers that DRATs are toothless paper tigers whose directions can be flouted by anyone and everyone with impunity.
15. Now, this is yet another case coming up before this Tribunal where from the aforesaid narration of events it becomes clear that the Recovery Officers attached to DRTs have scant respect for the DRAT and in this case even the Bank has attempted to brazenly proclaim that any order of DRAT passed staying the recovery process of its dues, even if some illegalities at-e being alleged to have been committed is meant to be disobeyed and not to be given any respect and that too without even challenging the order with which it may feel aggrieved like in this case the order dated 19.5.2016 passed by this Tribunal restraining taking of any coercive steps against the COs was never challenged before any higher Forum and still that order was sought to be shown scant respect on behalf of the Bank before the Recovery Officer by instigating and abetting him to ignore the order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT and to proceed ahead to sell the mortgaged property claiming that the stay order was against the CH Bank only and not the Recovery Officer who was free to proceed to sell the mortgaged property.
16. I am of the view that the Recovery Officer as well as the Bank during the course of recovery proceedings were having consensus ad idem in adopting a totally preposterous interpretation of DRAT’s order dated 19.5.2016 that the stay granted by DRAT was only against the Bank and not against the Recovery Officer. The Recovery Officer knew that this Tribunal had restrained the Bank from taking coercive steps against the COs which meant that recovery proceedings were not to proceed further and the Recovery Officer being a quasi-judicial authority while performing duties of Recovery Officer was expected to know at least that much that he was the authority through whom only the CH Bank could take coercive steps for the recovery of its dues after the issuance of Recovery Certificate by the DRT in the Bank’s O.A. under Section 19 of the RDDBFI Act, 1993 and he also knew that on 5.9.2016 when DRAT’s order was produced before him otherwise he would not have adjourned the matter that day. However subsequently on 22.9.2016 he proceeded ahead recording in his proceedings of that date that there was no stay against him and when Bank had sought police aid on 7.12.2016 which it could not have sought since by that time it itself was harbouring under the impression that the DRAT had restrained it from taking any coercive action against the COs and it can be attributed the knowledge that when it bad been restrained from taking any coercive action against the CDs it could not have instigated or abetted the Recovery Officer to proceed further with the sale of the property of the COs nor could the Recovery Officer, who performs quasi-judicial functions as a Recovery Officer, form a totally unacceptable view that the order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT was not meant to be honoured by him. Otherwise also he did take his own conscious decision also to march ahead but now he is taking the stand that the Bank had asked him to proceed ahead since the stay was against the Bank and not against him. In these circumstances, the only conclusion which can be arrived at is that both the Bank and the Recovery had joined hands to show disrespect to the order of the Appellate Tribunal and also to convey to the litigrants before the Recovery Officer that the Appellate Tribunal’s orders are notmeantto be obeyed and quite easily escape routes can be conceived of whenever they find themselves landed in a such like situation where their acts of disrespect to the Appellate Tribunal’s orders are being looked into. On 22.5.2016 the Bank as well as the Recovery Officer chose to tread on a path which has brought them to a dead end where only contempt action is awaiting them. That the preposterous interpretation of the order dated 19.5.2016 to the effect that the same was not applicable to the Recovery Officer least realising at that time that no same person will accept such a preposterous interpretation of the order dated 19.5.2016 of this Appellate Tribunal. Had it been a case under SARFAESI Act the position might have been different since the Recovery Officers have no role to play in SARFAESI actions initiated by the Banks whereunder the Banks can take possession and sell its mortgaged assets without intervention of the DRTs. In that situation it could be argued that since the Bank had only been restrained from taking any coercive steps against the mortgaged properties of the defaulting borrowers the Recovery Officer could in that event proceed further in RC proceedings under the RDDBFI Act to sell the mortgaged property pursuant to the order of the DRT to that effect passed in the Bank’s O.A.
17. Thus, the CH Bank as well as Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit made their intentions clear that somehow or the other DRAT’s order dated 19.5.2016 was not to be obeyed. That way they did challenge the majesty of the appellate Tribunal also for which they have become liable to be punished appropriately by this Tribunal in exercise of the power conferred upon DRTs under Section 19(25) of the RDDBFI Act. Sub-section (25) of Section 19 reads as follows:
'19(25): The Tribunal may make such orders and give such directions as may be necessary or expedient to give effect to its orders or to prevent abuse of its process or to secure the ends of justice.'
18. Since appeal is a continuation of original proceedings this Tribunal can invoke this provision of law. Even otherwise also the Legislature has conferred exactly similar power upon the DRATs also under Rule 22 of the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1994. Rule 22 is verbatim reproduction of Section 19(25) of RDDBFI Act. In case the interpretation of the Bank and Recovery Officer given to the order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT were to be accepted that would be encouraging abuse of process of this Tribunal and that has to be avoided at all costs and to secure ends of justice some order punishing the Bank and Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit will have to be passed in exercise of the inherent power vested in this Tribunal under Section 19(25) read with Rule 22 of the DRAT Procedure Rules and this Tribunal need not seek shelter under the provisions of Contempt of Court Act.
19. However, when this Tribunal had called upon the Bank, its officer Mr. Satish Chand and the Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit to respond to the contempt application they realized that they had been caught on the wrong foot and accordingly they conceived of an escape route without realising that even that route will also eventually land them in a pit from it will not be possible for anyone of them to come out and in fact that route taken by them, again like a joint defence, will compound their miseries. The escape route conceived of by them is in the form of a stand taken by them in separate replies to the contempt application. The stand which they have now taken, and which stand was never taken before at any stage, is that after 4.8.2016 there was no stay against anyone of them since the stay which earlier granted by this Tribunal on 19.5.2016 was made operative only till 4.8.2016 and thereafter it was never extended. This submission was, however, not made when Counsel for appellants had sought adjournment on 28.10.2016 before this Tribunal in the appeal to argue on Bank’s application for vacation of stay (being I.A. No. 418/2016). The Bank did not claim at that time that stay already stood vacated on 4.8.2016. Even the Recovery Officer had always continued to remain under the clear impression even till 22.9.2016 that stay granted by DRAT was continuing. Thus both were proceeding in the recovery proceedings under the clear impression that stay order dated 19.5.2016 was continuing even after 4.8.2016. This stand being now taken in response to contempt notice also strengthens the view of this Tribunal that the Bank and the Recovery Officer had basically decided to proclaim openly and brazenly from 22.9.2016 onwards that the order dated 19.5.2016 of DRAT was really meaningless and an order of a toothless paper tiger which could be flouted. Atleast the interpretation of that order dated 19.5.2016 adopted by them on 22.9.2016 clearly convoys that view of theirs. Therefore, now they cannot be permitted to take the plea in their defence that on 22.9.2016, when both the Bank and the Recovery Officer took the decision that recovery proceedings should proceed further for the sale of the property in question, there was in fact no stay order of the DRAT in operation against anyone.
20. As far as the CH Bank is concerned its mala fides becomes evident from another stand taken in its reply to the contempt application to the effect that the Bank was not even aware of the DRAT’s stay order dated 19.5.2016 and also that in fact the Advocate whose appearance was recorded on 19.5.2016 was not even the Advocate authorized by the Bank to appear in the matter. That contradictory stand was taken despite the fact in the proceedings of this Tribunal recorded on 19.5.2016 the presence of one Advocate on behalf of the Bank was recorded. Now when this cause notice has been issued to the Bank it has come out with a different story that was not aware of the order dated 19.5.2016. That shows that the Bank has the audacity even to doubt the correctness of the proceedings of 19.5.2016. No such stand was taken before this Tribunal nor any correction in that order was sought. Even copy of that order was produced before the Recovery Officer no such plea was raised. In any event once it became known to the Bank that a stay order had been passed in the appeal of CDs it ought not to have abetted the violation of the stay order by the Recovery Officer by telling him that he could proceed further to sell the mortgaged property as only the Bank was restrained and not the Recovery Officer. That interpretation of the DRAT’s order cannot be considered to be bona fide or oven reasonable by any stretch of imagination.
21. This Tribunal is also of the view that even if it is accepted that after 4.8.2016 there was no specific order passed extending the stay the same stood extended at least on 28.10.2016 when the appeal came up before me for the first time and matter was adjourned noting the request of the Counsel for the appellant that she wanted to address arguments on the Bank’s application for vacation of the stay granted in their favour on 19.5.2016 and that extension also becomes clear from the fact that on 9.12.2016 this Tribunal had stayed all further proceedings before the Recovery Officer. Learned Counsel for the Bank had not claimed either on 28.10.2016 or even on 9.12.2016 that where was the occasion for hearing arguments on the Bank’s application for vacation of stay granted on 19.5.2016 and staying further recovery proceedings since the stay was never extended on or after 4.8.2016 and Bank as well as the Recovery Officer were free in proceeding further in recovery proceedings. It is also significant to notice that in each and every proceeding in the appeal the Bank’s application No. 418/2016 was being reflected which is done only when some application is pending disposal and not otherwise. The Bank also did not ask the Tribunal on 28.10.2016 not to mention IA. No. 418/2016 either in the proceedings or in the cause list for the reason that it had already been rendered infructuous for the reason that stay was not extended on 4.8.2016. In any event, the request made by the Bank before the Recovery Officer on 7.12.2016 for police aid for getting the valuation done and the Recovery Officer warning the COs that day not to interfere in that process otherwise action will be t
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aken against them did amount to defying the order of this Tribunal and also an attempt to overreach its authority. It is also significant to note that which action of theirs also amounts to contempt for which they need to be punished. 22. I have already stated that 1 have examined the matter from various angles. There is yet another angle of the matter and that also leads me to the conclusion that the conduct of the Bank, Mr. Satish Chand and the Recovery Officer was always contumacious. Even if the technical plea that after 4.8.2016 there was no stay in operation against the Bank, Mr. Satish Chand as well as the Recovery Officer is accepted even then they cannot get any benefit or relief. Whatever was recorded in the proceedings of the Recovery Officer on 22.9.2016, which I have already extracted verbatim, shows that even if there had been was the order of stay in operation even on 22.9.2016 they would not have still obeyed the same in its letter and spirit by preposterously interpreting the order dated 19.5.2016 to be against the Bank only and Recovery Officer was not restrained and so he was at liberty to proceed to sell the property in question and which absurd interpretation makes their defiance of the order dated 19.5.2016 wilful and intentional even if it had been in their minds, though they have not pleaded so, that their aim was to recover public money expeditiously but this Tribunal’s order of stay was coming in their way. Under no circumstances the stay order could be sidelined by adopting a totally absurd interpretation of the stay order. So, the plea raised by the Bank as well as the Recovery Officer relying upon the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgment in Ashok Kumar’s case (supra) relied upon now by both in support of the stand that if stay is upto a particular date and is not extended thereafter there will be no stay in existence after that date, still will not exonerate them. 23. The Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit, the Bank as well as its officer Shri Satish Chand are accordingly held guilty of wilful disobedience of the order of this Tribunal and showing disrespect to the majesty and authority of this Tribunal. 24. Now, the questions which will still be required to be examined by this Tribunal are as to whether the apology tendered by the Recovery Officer and the Bank as well as Mr. Satish Chand, Manager of the contemnor Bank should be accepted and if it is not to be accepted what should be the appropriate punishment awarded to them. In case of the Bank it will also in that event be required to be examined as to who needs to suffer the punishment on behalf of the Bank. However, before all these aspects are considered and any decision is taken by this Tribunal after having held the Bank, its officer Mr. Satish Chand and Recovery Officer Mr. Alok Kumar Dixit guilty they deserve to be given an opportunity to come out with their respective stands on these aspects also. Accordingly, for considering these aspects the matter shall now be taken up now for further directions/orders on 31.10.2017. A copy of this order be sent to the Recovery Officer, who after submitting his response had chosen not to participate in these proceedings and also to his Presiding Officer of DRT-I under whose ‘control’ he is working as per Section 7 of the RDDBFI Act, for her information only. Copy of this order be given to Counsel for the Bank also for being placed before the concerned authority in the Bank for deciding as to who has to face the music for having committed contempt of this Tribunal. Ordered accordingly.