The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the removal of restrictions placed on customers of the crisis-hit Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank, PTI reported. The petition, filed by account holders, sought complete insulation and insurance of the money deposited in the bank, besides the removal of restrictions on cash withdrawals imposed by the Reserve Bank of India.
The court told the petitioners to instead approach the respective High Courts for appropriate relief. “We are not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 (writ jurisdiction),” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, said it was aware of the gravity of the situation and the Enforcement Directorate will take appropriate action against the guilty. Lawyer Shashank Sudhi, appearing for Delhi-based petitioner Bejon Kumar Mishra, said their plea was filed on behalf of 500 account holders. Sudhi told the court that the petitioners belonged to four different states and have therefore moved the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter, according to Bar and Bench.
On Wednesday, the top court agreed to an urgent hearing of the petition that sought directions to provide interim protective measures for insuring around 15 lakh people, whose money was blocked due to the scam. The plea said the Centre and the RBI should be ordered to ensure complete insulation and insurance of the money deposited by people in cooperative banks, including nationalised banks. The petitioner said the Centre and RBI must provide 100% insurance coverage for the amount deposited.
The Enforcement Directorate is investigating charges against the bank, which allegedly did not report all non-performing assets, or bad loans, after providing funds to several companies. The scam is said to be worth Rs 4,355 crore. Earlier this month, the RBI had imposed restrictions on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the bank. Deposit withdrawals have now been capped at Rs 40,000 for six months.
This week, three account holders of the bank died within 24 hours in separate incidents. Two of the three deaths were due to heart attacks as relatives of the deceased said they were under “severe stress”, and another depositor allegedly committed suicide.
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