Officers Association Condemns the Unfair Arrest of fellow officers.

  • Complainant is a bank defaulter
  • Actual Jurisdiction of said case should be Chandigarh, how punjab police can register the case and make arrests.

State Bank of India Officers’ Association which is affiliated to All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, having a membership of more than 3,20,000 officers strongly condemns the unfortunate harassment and police investigation against Bank Officers in connection with the FIR lodged by Smt. Sonia Bawa, owner of Ikaum Impex firm against her partner Sh. Sukhwinder Singh, alleging a fraud of Rs 6 crore by forging documents. Three officials of the State Bank of India surrendered before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kapurtala on 08.10.2018 and were sent to 14-day judicial custody in the Rs 6 crore loan fraud case. Another lady official had surrendered before the CJM court already on 05.10.2018. It would be pertinent to mention here that one lady officer is in final leg of pregnancy and another has undergone bypass surgery very recently. All their bail plea has been rejected. A case was registered against 14 people, including nine bank officials of three banks. Sonia Bawa had alleged that as per the partnership deed, her
partner was supposed to get her signatures while dealing with a bank or a financial institution, but he did not do so in connivance with bank officials while applying for a loan.

The loan under reference was sanctioned as per the bank’s lending norms. M/s Ikaum Impex – a partnership firm (Partners Shri Sukhwinder Singh and Smt. Sonia Bawa), registered at Kapurthala having its office at Chandigarh and engaged in the business of Import & sale of metal scrap, availed working capital (cash Credit) limit of Rs.0.50 crores and letter of Credit (LC) limit of Rs.3.50 crores from Canara bank, Kapurthala. In June 2012, the firm applied to SBI, SME Branch, Chandigarh for takeover of limits from Canara Bank. Cash Credit limit of Rs. 2.50 Crores and letter of Credit limit (LC) of Rs. 5.00
Crores was sanctioned after following due procedure. Loan was collaterally secured by Equitable Mortgage of house property in the name of Shri Kiranjit Singh Bawa (husband of Smt. Sonia Bawa, partner in the firm). Equitable mortgage was created by Mr. Kiranjeet Singh Bawa, owner of mortgaged property and guarantor to the firm. Mortgage was further confirmed by Mr Kiranjeet Singh Bawa by sending letter confirming deposit of title deeds. All the accounts were being conducted satisfactorily till August 2013. Bills under the LC were being paid by the firm. In September 2013, the Account started showing signs of stress as the firm was failing to deposit their sales proceeds in the cash credit accounts, thus leading to non-payment of bills under the LC’s issued. In an attempt to recover over dues & after all efforts of bank officials to get the accounts regularized by meeting the partners personally and by way of correspondence and to protect public money involved, Bank served legal notice to the partners in year 2013. As there was no response to the notices which were returned with remarks ‘REFUSED TO ACCEPT’, the Bank issued notice under section 13(2) of SARFAESI Act 2002 on borrowers & guarantors. Meanwhile Sh. Kiranjit Singh Bawa (guarantor to the loan) filed an FIR at City Thana Kapurthala against Sh. Sukhwinder Singh (partner of Ikaum Impex) that he has stolen car of the firm. Ms Sonia Bawa (one of the partners) also filed complaint and FIR with the Police Authority at Kapurthala against the other partner, Mr. Sukhwinder Singh and his family members for defrauding her while transacting in partnership. Bank officials of the branch were called at police station Kapurthala for investigation and recording of statements. After attending the investigations on many occasions, on the presentation of Ms Bawa, the police accused Bank officials of conniving with Mr. Sukhwinder Singh and defrauding her. This was in reaction to Bank notice to her, for sale of the Mortgaged property. Bank authorities also requested to transfer the case from Punjab Police to Chandigarh Police or any other independent investigating agency like CBI to book the real culprits and provide justice to officials who have been falsely implicated in the case. The case was shifted to Cyber Crime Branch, SAS Nagar for further investigation. The Bank officers have always co-operated and joined the investigation whenever required. They have also provided the documents, which have been requested from them time and again by the investigating officers. However, the Cyber Crime Cell Mohali implicated six officers in its report

This is a case of a conspiracy as the officials of the bank have been arrested for criminal conspiracy. The borrower had defaulted the loan and when Bank started action to pledge their property, a false case was got registered. The case even does not fall in the jurisdiction of Punjab Police because the same was sanctioned by SME, Branch situated at Chandigarh. In the internal investigations of the Bank, it has been proved that there is no malafide on the part of Bank officials.
Here, we would also like to throw light on the following facts which the Police Investigation Report has not considered.

1. Why there are contradictory FIRs registered by Sh. Kiranjit Singh Bawa on 27.04.2014 and Ms. Sonia Bawa on 24.05.2014? Both the FIRS are against Mr. Sukhwinder Singh.

2. Police investigation and report is silent against all those persons against whom FIR has been registered. Investigation has been diverted towards bank’s officials of SBI with the sole purpose to save the property mortgaged with the bank, which the bank wants to sell to recover its dues. Where are the main accused against whom FIR was registered? Police Investigation report is silent on the same. What efforts have been made by the police to trace the persons are not known?

3. Whether Mrs. Sonia Bawa solely signed the authority to debit the cash credit account with SBI and remit appox. Rs.46 lacs to Canara Bank? If yes, then why she is raising issue now that the account should have been operated jointly and the Bank has tampered with the documents.

4. Who received the first cheque book of the account? It was delivered at residential address of Mrs. Sonia Bawa. If all the cheques were signed by Mr. Sukhwinder Singh to make transactions, who delivered the cheque book to Sukhwinder Singh, when the same was sent at residential address of Ms. Sonia Bawa and received by her? Docket number was also provided to the police.

5. Ikaum Impex applied for adhoc limit of Rs.1.50 crore in April/May 2013. Both the partners and guarantor have signed the documents on 13.05.2013 and arrangement letter for availing adhoc limit. While signing the documents on 13.05.2013, Ms. Sonia Bawa signed the link letter and ratified all previous documents and all previous transactions. Then, why the issue of not knowing about the affairs of the firm is being raised now?

6. Mrs. Sonia Bawa was drawing salary from the firm. It means she was active partner of the firm and was fully aware about the affairs of the firm.

7. Mrs. Bawa was in prior knowledge of addendum to the partnership deed, which has changed the share from 80:20 to 20:80. Mail was sent to Chartered Accountant by her office staff only. Whether she filed her Income Tax return for FY 2012-13 on the basis of her share being 20% in the firm? If yes, why the issue of change of her share is being raised now and bank officials are being held liable for not advising this to Mrs. Bawa whereas it is clear that change was done with her consent.

8. When the account was under stress, notices were sent to both partners and guarantor as well as address of the firm. Some of the notices have been received by partners and guarantor. How can they say that they were never told about the affairs of the firm?

8. When the account was under stress, notices were sent to both partners and guarantor as well as address of the firm. Some of the notices have been received by partners and guarantor. How can they say that they were never told about the affairs of the firm?

9. If Mrs. Sonia Bawa was not aware of the affairs of the firm as claimed by her, why all the documents were signed by her? Why no complaint was made by her to bank or to any other authority after executing the documents thrice that the affairs of the firm are not known to her? She was accepting the salary and other benefits from the firm. Why police complaint was made only in May 2014 when whereabouts of another partner Sukhwinder Singh was not known?

10. When bank issued notice under section 13(2) of SERFEASI Act for recovery of its loan, whether any counter notice was given to bank under section 13 (3) of SARFEASI Act on the behest of the firm and guarantor? Whether any statement of that advocate was ever taken who gave notice on behalf of firm and guarantor? Later on, the same notice was withdrawn by the firm. This notice itself shows that Mrs. Sonia Bawa and Sh. Kiranjit Singh Bawa knew about all the affairs of the firm.

11. Loan has been sanctioned at Chandigarh. Documents were executed in SME Branch Sector17 Chandigarh on all occasions. Business address of the firm was at Chandigarh. Why FIR was registered at Kapurthala? Whether Punjab Police has jurisdiction to lodge FIR in this case and conduct enquiry against Bank’s officials?

Through this piece of communication, we demand that the case should be transferred to CBI so as to conduct proceedings in a fair & impartial manner. Moreover, the case also falls under the  jurisdiction of Chandigarh since the registered address of the firm was at Chandigarh and its accounts were being operated from Chandigarh. The lending Bank (SBI SME Branch, Sector 17, Chandigarh) is also in Chandigarh. It is very clear that both the partners (Mr. Sukhwinder Singh and Ms. Sonia Bawa) together joined the partnership and jointly applied for the loan. Estrangement of one partner with the other partner subsequently has no bearings on the responsibility of the partners, singly and severally to repay the Bank’s loans, failing which the Bank is legally bound to approach Courts
for recovery of dues. It is for the Courts to decide and issue orders accordingly. It would not be an exaggeration recalling the contribution of the public sector bankers’ community in the successful implementation of all the Govt. sponsored schemes and the officials have discharged their roles and responsibilities with honesty and sincerity beyond doubt. It is also well known that the people with high level politial connections implicate the bank officials
to avoid recovery process. The bank officials must have the protection from ill-treatment otherwise entire banking sector will collapse.
We also demand a detailed response from Bank Management on the issue as repeated publication of news with ulterior motives is not only tarnishing the image of our beloved Bank but also demoralising the entire officer community who are working day in and day out for the business development and growth of the Bank.

In an attempt to shield honest bankers from prosecuting agencies, the Parliament recently ej amended the revention of Corruption Act, 1988. Consequently, agencies are also required to seek prior nod from appropriate authorities before proceeding to arrest a bank official accused of misdemeanor. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is overall responsible for the vigilance of public sector including banks, the approval of CVC has been mandated to give protection to the bankers.
With this communication, we condemn the arrest of the bank officials for “taking bona fide decisions” and demand for their immediate release from the custody. We also demand that the government and the RBI for that matter should conform to the prevailing rules and regulations of the country and stop their atrocities on the bankers’ community.


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