An application under Section 22(2)(b) of the Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institution Act, 1993 RDBFI Act) for production of original/certified copies of the documents mentioned in the petition was filed. On this application, Debt Recovery Tribunal passed an order whereby directing the other party to produce documents sought to be produced. No documents were produced despite the order. Thereafter, the Tribunal passed another order to the effect that relevance of production of the documents and the effect of non-filing of the said documents would be examined at the time of trial. This order was challenged on the ground that the later order is illegal as in effect it resulted in review of the previous order.
The question that arose for consideration was whether once the Tribunal has passed an order for production of the document, consequence of it as contemplated under Order 11 Rule 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) is mandatorily required to be given effect to by the Tribunal.
Section 22(2) provides that neither the Tribunal nor the Appellate Tribunal shall be bound by the procedure laid down by the CPC however it shall be guided by the principle of natural justice in order to regulate its proceeding subject to other provisions of the Act and the Rules. The Tribunal or the Appellate Tribunal thus can lay down its procedure to regulate the proceeding, keeping in view that the principle of natural justice be adhered to.
The provision however does prescribe that the Tribunal shall have the same power while discharging its function as is vested under the CPC with respect to the matters enumerated in sub cl. (a) to (h) including the matter relating to discovery and production of documents under sub clause (b) of Section 22(2). This though would not mean that the Tribunal has to strictly follow the provision of the Code relating to the matter as enumerated under sub-cl. (a) to (h) of sub-s. (2) of S. 22.
Had there been any such intention of the Legislature, the Tribunal with respect to those matter enumerated under cl. (a) to (h) could have been empowered to proceed as per the relevant provision of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is for the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal to follow the procedure or not to follow the procedure relating to the matter incorporated under cl. (a) to (h) but if the Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal resorts to those provisions, it will have same power which has been vested in the civil court under the CPC.
In the instant case it was accordingly held that before filing application u/s. 22(2)(b) of the RDBFI Act not only written statement was filed but even the evidence on affidavit has been laid into and thereby the question of violation of principle of natural justice does not arise.
[Siddharth Jewellers Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. vs. State Bank of India, Mumbai]
(Jharkhand HC, 19.08.2014)