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Parvathi Sonia Sooraj @ Sonia Skaria, Represented by her Power of Attorney holder Sooraj Gemini v/s Union of India, Represented by The Secretary to Ministry of Finance (Financial Services), New Delhi & Others

    WP(C). No. 892 of 2022

    Decided On, 05 April 2022

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE N. NAGARESH

    For the Petitioner: K. Ramakumar, Sr. Advocate, T. Ramprasad Unni, S.M. Prasanth, G. Renjith, R.S. Aswini Sankar, T.H. Aravind, Advocates. For the Respondents: Jawahar Jose, S. Manu, ASGI.



Judgment Text

1. The petitioner challenges Exts.P11 and P12 communications of the State Bank of India (SBI) and seeks to declare that the arbitrary denial of loan to the petitioner is violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India and to direct the respondents to sanction loan as applied for by the petitioner.

2. The petitioner is holder of M. Phil Degree. The petitioner did M. Tech Course in Nano-science and Nano-technology in Amrita Centre in the year 2020. The petitioner wanted to do Doctoral Degree Programme in Chemistry at the University of New Mexico with full funding. She applied for educational loan from the SBI. The SBI sanctioned Rs. 1,99,295/-. The amount sanctioned will not cover even travel expenses. Initial cost for the course itself will be US $ 5000. Health Insurance and registration fee will be US $ 113.99 and US $ 125. The Bank has restricted loan to Air Travel alone. The denial of requisite loan amount is in derogation of RBI Circulars and IBA Guidelines, contends the petitioner.

3. The petitioner states that the welcome letter issued from the University itself informs that the petitioner has to keep money for settlement expenses. The petitioner has to at least find out resources to the extent of US $ 5000 to cover initial cost with a warning that more than US $ 1000 may not be carried. Keeping money for initial cost is a mandatory requirement. The denial of sufficient loan amount by the SBI is without due application of mind, contended the learned Senior Counsel assisted by the counsel for the petitioner.

4. The refusal by the Bank amounts to subjecting the petitioner to discriminatory treatment violating her fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner is subjected to manifest injustice, prejudice and injury as a result of the refusal of the SBI to grant loan. The SBI is therefore liable to be compelled by appropriate writ of this Court to sanction the loan applied for by the petitioner, urges the Senior Counsel.

5. Respondents 4 and 5 contested the writ petition filing counter affidavit. Respondents 4 and 5 stated that even as per the application submitted by the petitioner, the University of New Mexico has offered her full scholarship amounting to US $ 38089 which includes her living expenses at USA. The SBI has issued Circulars under which the Bank has prescribed eligible amount for a loan for overseas education. Ext.R(4)(b) would show that a candidate is eligible for fees, boarding charges, examination charges, library and laboratory charges, travel expenses and the expenses to be incurred for purchasing study materials. The petitioner herself had stated that she has been offered full scholarship by the University which includes expenses for tuition and living. On scrutinising the application, it is found that the petitioner is eligible for the loan of US $ 125 to pay fees and Rs. 1,20,500/- towards travel expenses. Therefore, the petitioner was sanctioned a loan of Rs. 1,99,295/-. The petitioner is not entitled to loan towards settling charges and health insurance as the said amounts will not come within the ambit of eligibility criteria laid down by the Bank.

6. I have heard the learned Senior Counsel assisted by the counsel for the petitioner, the Assistant Solicitor General of India representing respondents 1 and 3 and the Standing Counsel for respondents 4 and 5.

7. Ext.P4 welcome letter issued to the petitioner by the institution would show that the petitioner has to arrive with access to approximately US $ 5000 to cover initial cost. The petitioner is also advised not to carry more than US $ 1000 in cash. Ext.P7 admission communication would indicate that the petitioner has to pay US $ 21262 and US $ 16827 towards tuition fee and living expenses respectively.

8. Ext.P7 document produced by the petitioner would, however, show that the institution has provided students funding for US $ 38089 towards tuition fee and living expenses. When scholarship is offered to the petitioner for the said amount, respondents 4 and 5 will be justified in not sanctioning separate education loan for the said purpose.

9. By Ext.R(4)(b), the Bank has prescribed conditions for grant of loan for overseas education. A candidate is eligible for fees, boarding charges, examination charges, library and laboratory charges, travel expenses and the expenses to be incurred for purchasing the study materials. Even according to the declaration given by the petitioner to respondents 4 and 5, the petitioner has been offered full scholarship by the University, which is inclusive of tuition fee and living expense.

10. In the circumstances, respondents 4 and 5 sanctioned only Rs. 1,20,500/- for travel expenses and US $ 125 towards fees. Going through Ext.R(4)(b), the Circular issued by the State Bank of India, it is evident that respondents 4 and 5 have sanctioned permis

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sible amount under the Circular. Respondents 4 and 5 opted to decline loan for the amounts offered as scholarship by the University. 11. This Court do not find any illegality in the action of respondents 4 and 5. Denial of that part of the loan amount applied for, for the reason that the petitioner is given financial assistance/scholarship by the University, cannot be said to be arbitrary or violative of Articles 14, 19 or 21 of the Constitution of India. The writ petition is therefore devoid of any merit and is hence dismissed.
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