Close to a fortnight after the Supreme Court deplored the use of musclemen to recover loans from alleged defaulters, 42-year-old computer engineer Manish Rajguru passed away due to the alleged use of strong-arm tactics and mental harassment by recovery agents of Nashik Merchant Co-operative Bank.
"We were facing increased harassment from the banks employees as well as the recovery agents deployed by the bank during the last one month. Manish had been tense and nervous due to the behavior of the recovery agents who would barge into our house and abuse us. The tension proved too much for him and yesterday he suddenly collapsed and passed away. I hold the bank responsible for his death," Manish's wife Dr Devang Rajguru a MD in Pathology told HT.
Manish's death was caused by cerebral haemorrhage. Manish is survived by two children and a cancer afflicted mother.
Rajguru, a dealer in computer peripherals, had taken a loan of Rs 40 lakhs to run his business in 1997. Subsequently due to losses in business he failed to pay his installments. The bank had then filed a case under Section 101 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Act in October 2000 and won the case allowing the bank to liquidate his property and recover the amount. The bank claims to have recovered an amount of only Rs 20 lakhs and is still seeking Rs 48 lakhs from the family.
Recovery agents had been visiting Rajguru's residence from February 2003 onwards. The family had also filed a case in a local police station last fortnight to complain against the behaviour of the recovery agents.
The bank, however, claims that it had not outsourced the recovery to any
"We have followed the guidelines laid down for recovery of loans. We have checked the facts and found that no individual from an external agency had visited Rajguru's premises," the bank's CEO Dilip Pendse said.
This is the second instance in the past one month in Nasik district where a person has lost his life due to the behaviour of bank's recovery agents.
A 54-year-old state transport mechanic Suresh Chaudhari died in the premises of ICICI Bank on January 13. The victim's family alleged that Chaudhari's death was caused due to harassment caused by the bank's recovery agent. Nasik police had subsequently filed cases against three employees of ICICI Bank in connection with the incident.
Recovery tactics employed by banks are increasingly coming under the scanner. The Supreme Court on January 7 had strongly deplored the practice of banks and financial institutions using musclemen to recover loans from alleged defaulters and asserted that recovery of loans, if any, should be only through legal means.
"We are governed by a rule of law in the country. How can someone take possession by force. You cannot employ goondas," the Bench remarked while dealing with a plea by a bank challenging the registration of a criminal case against its officials for allegedly using criminal force against a loanee.