Kashmir News Trust [KNT]
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed has filed a Second Appeal before the Central Information Commission, New Delhi against the denial of information by the J&K Bank Ltd. about the NPA Account of Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. which availed Loan from the Link Road Branch, Jammu of J&K Bank Ltd. to the tune of Rs. 31 Crores in the shape of three Term Loans for financing/establishing 3MW Hydel Project (SAL-II) at Sahoo in District Chamba of Himachal Pradesh.
The Loanees/Promoters/Directors/Shareholders of Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. who availed the loan include Former Deputy Chief Minister of J&K, Kavinder Gupta, Member Parliament Jugal Kishore Sharma, Mamta Singh W/o Dr. Nirmal Singh and others, the Former Speaker/Deputy Chief Minister of J&K Dr. Nirmal Singh stood as one of the Guarantors and has also mortgaged his immovable property measuring more than 3 Kanals situated at village Sunjwan, District Jammu. Besides this, Dr. Nirmal Singh has also given his Personal Guarantee in the matter.
The Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. miserably failed to repay the Loan to the Bank and accordingly the said Loan Account was declared as Non-Performing Asset(NPA) and in January, 2018 the Bank also initiated action under SARFAESI Act but no further proceedings was taken by the Bank.
In the meantime, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed approached Govt. of Himachal Pradesh (Ministry of Power) under RTI Act to ascertain the status of the 3MW Hydel Project (SAL-II) for which Rs. 31 Crores were taken from the J&K Bank, Link Road Branch, Jammu. The Govt. of Himachal Pradesh in May, 2022 made startling revelations that despite availing Amnesty by Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., the project has not been commissioned and as per Amnesty, the project holder has been directed to commission the project by or before 31st May, 2022.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed again approached Govt. of Himachal Pradesh in the first week of June,2022 under RTI Act as to whether SAL-II 3MW Hydel Project has been commissioned on May 31st,2022 or not and in case the same was not commissioned, what action has been initiated against Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
The Govt. of Himachal Pradesh sent an evasive reply from where it came to fore that Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. failed to commission the project on the stipulated date i.e. May 31st, 2022. The Govt. of Himachal Pradesh further informed that action as per the policy decision will be taken against Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
On June 13, 2022 Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed moved an RTI Application to the PIO, J&K Bank Ltd., Zonal Headquarters, Jammu soliciting complete details of the NPA Account of Himgiri Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. and also the action initiated by the J&K Bank towards the recovery of the huge money running into Crores. The PIO of the J&K Bank, Zonal Headquarters, Jammu vide letter dated June 27,2022 declined to provide the information saying the information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(d), 8(1)(e) and Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act,2005.
Against this refusal of the PIO, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed filed First Appeal before the First Appellate Authority, Shareesh Sharma, Zonal Head, Zonal Headquarters, J&K Bank Ltd.,Jammu wherein the appellant highlighted that details of NPA Account cannot be suppressed as has been held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in catena of Judgements and J&K Bank is under a legal obligation to share the information with the application as well as with the public of J&K to indicate the steps taken to recover huge loan amount from VVIP Defaulters.
However, the First Appellate Authority vide his letter dated July 29th, 2022 upheld the order of the PIO and declined to share the information.
Against the refusal to share the information of NPA Account by the Authorities of J&K Bank Ltd., today Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed filed Second Appeal as per the RTI Act, 2005 before the Central Information Commission, New Delhi. [KNT]