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Accountability Knows No Profession: Karnataka HC's Landmark Loan Recovery Verdict

In a ruling that echoes accountability across professions, the Karnataka High Court has delivered a decisive blow to the notion of special treatment for lawyers and judges in loan recovery matters. The court's judgement dismissed the writ petition filed by senior advocate Sri N. Ravindranath Kamath, setting a crucial precedent for the realms of loan recovery and legal responsibility.

The case revolved around the Subramanyeshwara Cooperative Bank Limited's pursuit of a significant loan repayment from Kamath. Despite his seniority as an advocate, Kamath found himself in default, leading to the classification of his loan account as a Non-Performing Asset (NPA) in 2017.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit, the presiding judge, invoked the words of Richard Brinsley Sheridan to set the tone for the verdict: "It is not my interest to pay the principal, nor my principle to pay the interest." The court meticulously scrutinized the details, shedding light on Kamath's borrowing of Rs. 1.50 Crore from the bank and subsequent consistent failure to meet his repayment commitments.

Highlighting the pivotal role of cooperative banks, the court emphasized their responsibility to swiftly recover outstanding debts to maintain their lending capacity. It underscored the cascading effects of overdue loans on cooperative banks' ability to recycle funds and continue lending operations. The judgement referenced recommendations from the Narasimham Committee and Madhav Rao Committee, addressing the challenges posed by overdue loans in cooperative banks.

Justice Dixit stressed the essence of borrowers upholding their promises and adhering to court directives. Despite being granted multiple opportunities and extensions, Kamath's actions reflected a persistent lack of commitment, including the issuance of a dishonored check due to "Stop payment instructions" from a cooperative society he claimed affiliation with.

In a resolute stance, the court declined to provide further leniency to Kamath, thereby dismissing his writ petition. This landmark decision paves the way for the bank to initiate coercive recovery measures in accordance with legal provisions.