In the case of Anurag v. Bank of India, [W.P. No. 2826 of 2022, decided on June 7, 2022], the Bombay High Court (“Court”), had an occasion to examine as to whether the Debt Recovery Tribunal has been vested with the powers under the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (“RDDB Act”) to pass an order restraining a person from travelling abroad.
Anurag (“Petitioner”) approached the Debt Recovery Tribunal, Nagpur (“Tribunal”) seeking relaxation of a condition which was earlier imposed by the Tribunal restraining the Petitioner from travelling abroad. The Petitioner filed an application with the Tribunal as he wanted to travel abroad for a short duration of time.
By virtue of an Order dated May 23, 2022 (“Order”) passed by the Tribunal, the Petitioner’s application was rejected by the Tribunal.
Challenging the aforesaid Order, the Petitioner contended that the Tribunal does not have any power to pass an order restraining any person from travelling abroad. The contention was repelled by the Respondent, contending that Section 22(2) of the RDDB Act vests the Tribunal with the powers of that of a civil court and that the Tribunal has the power to pass an order restraining a person from travelling abroad.
Decision by the Court:
Allowing the Petition, the Court found no merit in the contention of the Respondent that as per Section 22 (2) of the RDDB Act, the Tribunal is vested with the powers of that of a civil court and that the Tribunal has the power to pass an order restraining a person from travelling abroad. Relying upon the decision in Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramarathnam, [AIR 1967 SC 1836], wherein it was held that a right to travel abroad was a part of “personal liberty” and as such a fundamental right which was guaranteed by Article 21, the Court held that right to travel being a part of the personal liberty of a person, a person cannot be deprived of his right except according to the procedure established by law.
Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Industrial Credit Investment Corporation of India Limited v. Grapco Industries Limited, [(1999) 4 SCC 710:(1999) 3 SCR 759], the Court held that, whilst the Tribunal can travel beyond the powers conferred by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1909 with a view to observe natural justice and to regulate the proceedings before it, in the absence of a specific provision conferred on the Tribunal by statute, such right did not extend to allowing the Tribunal the right to restrain a citizen from travelling abroad especially when this right is a facet of Article 21.
The Court thus, concluded that the Order passed by the Tribunal restraining the Petitioner from travelling abroad was in contravention of the provisions of Article 21.
Please find attached a copy of the judgment.
This update has been contributed by Arjun Amin (Associate).
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