At, Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal At Delhi
By, THE HONORABLE JUSTICE: RANJIT SINGH
For Petitioner: Rajiv Kumar Virmani and Vaibhav Joshi, Advocates
1. Appellants herein filed an I.A. (No. 94/2011) before the Tribunal below praying for dismissal of the O.A. on the ground the Tribunal below has no territorial jurisdiction to decide the O.A. The plea by the appellants is that the Head Office of the appellants is situated at Kolkata where the defendants are also residing and hence the Tribunal at Delhi would not have territorial jurisdiction to decide the O.A. The Tribunal has held that the issue of jurisdiction as raised by the appellants would be decided at the time of final adjudication as preliminary issue. The I.A. filed by the appellants seeking dismissal of the O.A. has accordingly been disposed of. Aggrieved against the same, the appellants have filed the present appeal.
2. This appeal is filed with a delay of 5 days. In an application (I.A. No. 837/2015) filed by the appellants seeking condonation of this delay, it is averred that certain relevant documents necessary for filing the appeal were misplaced and could not be located in time, leading to delay in filing the appeal. For the reasons mentioned in the application, the delay in filing the appeal is condoned.
3. Let the appeal be numbered.
4. The learned Senior Counsel appearing for the appellants submits that the Tribunal below is not justified in deferring the consideration of the plea of jurisdiction till the stage of final disposal while holding that the issue of jurisdiction would be decided as preliminary issue. The Counsel contends that once the issue of jurisdiction is going to be a preliminary issue, the same could not have been deferred for being adjudicated with the final adjudication of the O.A. Counsel has referred to various documents on record in support of his plea that the Tribunals at Delhi would not have territorial jurisdiction to try the O.A. filed by the respondent financial institution. As per the Counsel, once the Tribunal below to is going to decide this as a preliminary issue, it ought to have been considered and decided at this stage instead of being deferred for decision at the stage of final disposed of O.A.
5. It would not be appropriate for this Tribunal to comment upon if the O.A. filed by the respondent financial institution falls within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal at Delhi or not. Since the issue is under consideration of the Tribunal below, any view expressed by this Tribunal may prejudice the case of parties. This Tribunal, therefore, will refrain from making any comment on the issue.
6. The plea of jurisdiction, otherwise, is always a mixed question of fact and law and can appropriately be considered and decided only after considering the evidence led by the parties. This I.A., is pending consideration since 2011 and has now been decided in the year 2015. The appellants had all the time in the world to press decision on this application. In fact, pressing such an application for deciding the issue of jurisdiction as a preliminary issue would run counter to the very aims and purposes of enacting the RDDBFI Act, which is to ensure speedy recovery. If such like issues are pressed for being decided as preliminary issues in this manner, then the aim of speedy recovery would certainly get affected. It would lead to retarding the recoveries and this would defeat the very purpose and aim for which this Act has been enacted.
7. Even otherwise, I find no justification in the plea raised in the application for dismissing the O.A. on the ground of jurisdiction and deciding this issue at this stage as preliminary issue. The issue being a mixed question of fact and law can properly be considered and decided after considering the evidence which would be at the time of final adjudication. I, therefore, find no reason or cause to interfere with the impugned order passed by the Tribunal below and would dismiss the appeal in limine.
8. The O.A. in this case has been filed in the year 2010 and till date the appellants have not filed their written statement. The Tribunal while dismissing the application, which was filed in the year 2011, has allowed a last opportunity to the defendants to file written statement within four weeks. The parties were directed to file evidence and mark exhibits on the documents also. For this purpose, the case was listed before the Registrar on 7.9.2015. The Counsel or the appellants states that appellant have not filed written statement within the time allowed by the Tribunal below, as they had filed the present appeal.
9. This act and conduct of the appellants would reveal an atte
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mpt on their part to delay the adjudication of the O.A. Though apparently, there is no justification on the part of the appellants not to file their written statement within the time stipulated, but considering that the appellants may suffer a serious consequence if they are not allowed to file their written statement, I am permitting them one last opportunity to file written statement within one week from today as is per the prayer made by the appellants. The appeal, otherwise, stands dismissed. Order dasti.