SC refuses to pass direction on plea to redress hardship of borrowers amid Covid-19 wave
“Government has many things to do. They have to spend money on vaccine, they have to spend money on migrant labourers. We cannot do it like this,” the apex court said, adding that it is for the Centre and the RBI to consider the issue.
“These are all in the realm of policy decision. These are issues having financial implications and we are not the experts,” a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah told advocate Vishal Tiwari, who has filed the petition.
The top court was hearing the plea which sought directions to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take effective and remedial measures, including in the form of fresh loan moratorium, to redress and overcome the financial stress and hardship faced by borrowers during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Tiwari referred to the reports on how the second wave of the pandemic has affected the Indian economy and said the situation is much worse as compared to last year.
The bench noted in its order that the petitioner has also annexed the last month’s circular by which the RBI had issued resolution of Covid-19 related stress of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
“The petitioner appearing in person submits that the circular does not sufficiently address the hardship of the borrowers. Be that as it may, the financial relief and other measures are in the domain of the government and essentially related to policy matter,” the bench said in its order.
“We are, thus, of the view that no direction, as prayed in the writ petition, be passed. We, however, observe that all the issues, which are raised, are policy matters and it is for the Union of India and the Reserve Bank of India to consider and take appropriate decision. The writ petition is disposed of,” the apex court said.
The bench said it had dealt with similar aspects in a writ petition which was filed last year.
The plea filed by Tiwari had sought directions to the Centre and the RBI to permit the lending institutions to grant interest free moratorium period for term loan and defer the payment of loan instalments for a period of six months or till the situation from Covid-19 normalises.
It had also sought directions, including that no account shall be declared as non-performing asset for a period of six months.