Supreme Court in SBI’s Plea: Imposes Stay on Bombay High Court’s Order Which Allowed Defaulter of Multi-Crore Loan to Travel Abroad
The Supreme Court urgently heard the plea moved by State Bank of India to stay an order passed by the Bombay High Court which allowed a loan defaulter to travel abroad.
State Bank of India was represented by Solicitor General of India (SG) Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before Chief Justice of India Chandrachud seeking urgent hearing, raising the concern that the person might become a fugitive.
Considering the urgency of the matter, CJI agreed to hear the case, though it was not otherwise listed for the day.
The petition was filed against Ms. Suman Vijay Gupta, the Chairperson of Ushdev International Limited.
The SG informed the division bench of CJI Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha that Gupta was the chairperson of a company which took a loan of Rs 3300 crores. After the loan was declared to be a Non-Performing Asset (NPA), she renounced the citizenship of India and got the citizenship of Dominican Republic, a tax haven.
Furthermore, the SG appraised the bench that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the premier investigating agency of India is investigating into the loan matter, after the loan became NPA and Look Out Circulars were issued against Gupta. She filed a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking permission to travel abroad. The High Court permitted her to travel abroad on giving an undertaking.
The Solicitor General stated the apprehension that she might become untraceable if she is allowed to leave India, particularly considering the fact that India has no extradition treaty with Dominican Republic.
While issuing notice on the petition, the bench stayed the High Court order.
The impugned order passed by a division bench comprising Justices GS Patel and Neela Gokhale of the High Court had observed as follows:
“We see no reason to prohibit the travel simply on the ground that the Petitioner is a foreign national. Indeed, that seems to us to raise more question than it answers because for an Indian citizen action could be taken under the Passports Act, but this is clearly not possible in the case of a person holding a foreign passport.”