The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Centre and the RBI to respond to a plea seeking release of up to Rs 5 lakh to depositors of the scam-hit Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank Ltd to help them address health issues during the prevalent COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notice to the Finance Ministry, Reserve Bank of India and PMC Bank seeking their stand on the application moved by consumer rights activist Bejon Kumar Misra. The court asked them to file replies before the next date of hearing on August 19.
Misra, in the application filed through advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, has said the court on an earlier date of hearing had asked the depositors to make a representation to the Centre, the RBI or PMC Bank regarding their financial difficulties and seeking withdrawal of money.
The application has said that despite making such a representation, no action has been taken till date to help the depositors withdraw money as per their requirement from the PMC Bank. It said that while the moratorium on withdrawals has been extended to December 2020, more than 35 depositors of the bank have allegedly ended their lives due to financial constraints.
The application has said there appears to be no lack of funds with the bank as more than Rs 8 crore are being spent on upkeep of its branches, including payment of salaries of the staff, but depositors are struggling to even withdraw their own hard-earned money. It has claimed that senior citizen depositors are "completely crippled" in terms of their financial liquidity to purchase essential utilities and medicines.
It has contended that the bank was not even releasing money equivalent to insured amount of Rs 5 lakh to help out the depositors in case of health crisis. The application has sought issuance of a direction to the Centre, the RBI and PMC Bank to urgently decide on depositors request for withdrawal of their money.
It has also sought lifting of the "procedural curbs" on withdrawal of the insured amount of Rs 5 lakh by the depositors and to also remove the processing time in release of the money. The court on May 28 had asked the Centre, the RBI and PMC Bank to appreciate the difficulties faced by the depositors on withdrawals during COVID-19 pandemic.
It said that upon receipt of any representation from any individual or group of depositors in this regard, "a decision shall be taken by the concerned respondent authority within a period of four weeks". Misra claimed that this direction of the bench has not been complied with.
The application has been filed in Misra's petition seeking directions to the RBI to ease out the moratorium for withdrawal of deposited money of depositors from PMC Bank during the coronavirus pandemic. PMC Bank has been put under restrictions by the RBI, following the unearthing of a Rs 4,355-crore scam.
The main petition was to be heard on April 21, but due to the lockdown and limited functioning of the high court it was adjourned to June and then to August 19.