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Penguin Agro Products Pvt. Ltd. v/s Union of India & Another

    W.P. No. 11472 (W) of 2015

    Decided On, 02 January 2019

    At, High Court of Judicature at Calcutta

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE DEBANGSU BASAK

    For the Appellants: D.N. Sharma, S. Nigam, Advocates. For the Respondents: R2, Chayan Gupta, S. Dasgupta, Ayan De, Advocates.



Judgment Text

1. An action of a private bank in freezing an account maintained by the first petitioner is under challenge in the present writ petition.

2. Learned advocate appearing for the petitioners relies upon 2013 SCC online AP 581 (Gopal Chemical Industries Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore vs. Indusind Bank Ltd., Mumbai & Ors.) and submits that, a writ petition against the concerned bank is maintainable. He also submits that, in the facts of the present case, the private bank acted illegally in freezing the bank account of the petitioner.

3. Learned advocate appearing for the bank submits that, the writ petition is not maintainable. Simpliciter on the ground that, the bank is governed by the directions issued by the Reserve Bank of India and has to comply with the provisions of the Banking Regulation of 1949, does not make a private bank amenable to the writ jurisdiction. He relies upon (2003) 10 SCC 733 (Federal Bank Ltd. vs. Sagar Thomas & Ors.) as well as 2007 (4) CHN 369 (Standard Chartered Bank vs. Standard Chartered Bank Pensioner's Association & Ors.) in support of his contentions. He draws the attention of the Court to the pleadings made in the affidavit-in-opposition and submits that, the petitioners are under the control and management of the same natural person as that of REI Agro Ltd. REI Agro Ltd. has defrauded a consortium of banks of a sum of Rs. 7,000 crores. The first petitioner is one of the instrumentalities in perpetrating such fraud. Moreover, the bank acted on the basis of a decision arrived at in the consortium's meeting and a direction issued by the Superintendent of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation.

4. It appears from the materials made available on record that, the first petitioner is under the control and management of the same natural person as that of REI Agro Ltd. REI Agro Ltd. has a sum in excess of Rs. 7,000 crores due and payable to a consortium of bankers. The consortium of bankers in a meeting, resolved to lodge a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation, by treating, such exposure as a serious fraud. Central Bureau of Investigation apparently, required freezing of the bank accounts. The bank concerned herein, acted on the basis of a communication received from the lead banker of the consortium. It froze the bank account maintained by the petitioners. Such action is under challenge in the present writ petition.

5. As noted above, the bank concerned was acting at the request of the lead banker of the consortium and the Superintendent of Police, CBI. There is no irregularity in the action of the bank concerned, in adhering to such request.

6. So far as the maintainability of the writ petition is concerned, Federal Bank Ltd. (supra) is of the view that, a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 is not amenable to a writ jurisdiction simpliciter on the ground that it has to comply with guidelines issued under the Act of 1956. Similarly a banking company merely because, it has to follow the banking policy of the Reserve Bank of India or act in accordance with the regulations formulated under the Banking Regulation Act is not amenable to the writ jurisdiction. However, a banking company is amenable to the writ jurisdiction, if it is found that, it is discharging any public function or that it is necessary to compel such bank to enforce any statutory obligation or such obligations which are of public nature casting positive obligations upon it. Applying the ratio laid down in Federal Bank Ltd. (supra) the Division Bench of our Court in Standard Chartered Bank Pensioner's Association & Ors. (supra) found that, in the facts of that case that, the writ petition was not maintainable. It found that, the writ petitioner was wanting to enforce a contractual settlement. The remedy of filing a suit was found to be available to the petitioners therein.

7. In the facts of the present case, I am n

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ot in a position to arrive at a finding that, the action of the bank comes within the parameters laid down in Federal Bank Ltd. (supra) to make it amenable to a writ jurisdiction. 8. W.P. No.11472 (W) of 2015 is dismissed. 9. There shall be no order as to costs. 10. Urgent website certified copies of this order, if applied for, be made available to the parties upon compliance of the requisite formalities.
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