High court stays house attachment of former Bhandari Bank employee

Updated: Jan 16, 2020, 07:54 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Vishwajeet Raut, who was appointed as the temporary Goregaon branch manager in 2006, was also slapped with a recovery notice of Rs 27.50 lakh with 11 per cent interest

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

A Bombay High Court order has come as a relief for a former employee of M/s Bhandari District Cooperative Bank Ltd, also an accused in alleged illegalities committed by the bank in disbursing loans years back. Borivli resident, Vishwajeet Raut, who was slapped with a recovery notice of Rs27.50 lakh with 11 per cent interest by the official liquidator, had filed a petition in the HC in December last year against the attachment of his 500 sq feet flat. The court stayed the order on Wednesday, which means Raut would be able to continue staying in the house, which is currently in symbolic custody of the liquidator.

Speaking to mid-day, Raut's advocate, Rameshwar Panchal said, "Raut and his family will stay in the house until further order, which will be issued after hearing all the parties concerned."

According to Panchal, the petition was filed seeking writ of certiorari to quash and set aside the impugned order dated September 20, 2019 passed by the 1st respondent (the state of Maharashtra, through minister for co-operation). He further said that vide an order dated September 11, 2006, Raut was temporarily promoted as the Goregaon branch manager, but his pay scale remained that of a junior accountant, the post at which he previously worked.

The petitioner states that the audit report reveals that the directors, chief executive officer and bank manager committed illegalities in the disbursement of auto-rickshaw and housing loans given to BEST employees.

Accordingly, the deputy director sent his report to the commissioner for co-operation and registrar of co-operative societies, Maharashtra. Thereafter, the commissioner for co- operation appointed an administrator. The banking licence was cancelled and a liquidator appointed. The commissioner for co-operation ordered an inquiry under section 88 of the MCS Act against the directors and officials.

Panchal added, "My client was not proved to have indulged in any malpractice and caused financial loss to the bank. He was charge-sheeted but later the bank withdrew it. However, his service was terminated as part of the liquidation process and not on the basis of any charge having been proven against him. Thus, he faces no liability in a disciplinary inquiry."

Speaking about his condition, Raut said, "My heart has two blockages and it is pumping only 30 per cent of blood. Physically I am exhausted and have no money to undergo an open-heart surgery.

"The problem started in 2006 when the bank came out with a voluntary retirement scheme and many senior employees opted for it. Being one of the oldest employees, I was asked to take over the charge of the Goregaon branch as acting branch manager at the pay of junior accountant. All due procedures for auto-rickshaw and other loans were already in place and the bank had also appointed external agents on commission basis for the process, but instead we were made the scapegoats."

"I just had an HSC certificate when I joined the bank and from a single branch we helped the bank grow to five branches in Mumbai and one in Ratnagiri. I was so confident of my future prospects that I took admission and completed my graduation and later cleared the cooperative department audit exam, before doing my Bachelors in Law. And today we are being labeled as accused. This is disheartening," he added.

He further said, "We never committed any fraud in the bank, but all my gratuity and funds have been seized by the recovery officer. We have been running from pillar to post over the past couple of years to get justice."

"I am completely drained, both mentally and physically. My family will be on the road if the house is attached. We have no other source of earning other than the little my son earns. The only hope that we have is in the judiciary and truth will prevail. Or else I have no option but to end my life," he concluded.

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