In a damage control exercise after it withdrew the auctioning of BJP Member of Parliament (MP) and actor Sunny Deol's villa, the Bank of Baroda has tweeted the technical reasons for its decision.
On Monday, the Bank of Baroda has advertised in the newspapers that it is withdrawing the decision on 'technical reasons' to auction the MP and actor's Mumbai property for non-payment of its loan of about Rs 56 crore and interest on that.
Only on the previous day, Bank of Baroda had advertised auctioning of Sunny Deol's villa as he owed the bank about Rs 55.99 crore plus interest and cost from December 26, 2022 onwards less recovery up to date.
While the major banking union All India Bank Employees' Association's (AIBEA) General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam termed the decision as the ruling BJP's style of phone banking, the opposition Congress party too questioned the bank’s decision.
Faced with the backlash, Bank of Baroda in a tweet decided to explain the 'technical reasons'.
The bank said the total dues do not specify the exact quantum of dues to be recovered.
Secondly, the sale notice was based on the symbolic possession of the property as per Rule 8(6) of The Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules 2002.
According to the bank, an application for the physical possession of the property has been made on 1.8.2023 with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, which is pending.
The bank further said, Sunny Deol had conveyed that the unit is still running, the sale action will be initiated once physical possession is taken as per the SARFAESI Act.
The bank also said following the advertisement, the BJP MP-cum-actor had approached it for settling the dues and hence the sale notice was withdrawn as per normal industry practice.
The bank in its first advertisement had said the borrowers/guarantors can redeem the securities by paying the outstanding dues/costs/charges and expenses at any time before the sale is conducted.
Sunny Deol was described as the borrower/guarantor and the other guarantors are Dharmendra Singh Deol and Sunny Sounds Pvt Ltd.
The auction notice was issued by Bank of Baroda’s Zonal Stressed Asset Recovery Branch, Ballard Estate, Mumbai.
Be that as it may, the question that pops up is that can a government owned bank advertise a sale notice of a pledged property with various technical infirmities?
Given the profile of the borrower – BJP MP and an actor - the bank would have been doubly careful while issuing the sale notice. The logical conclusion is that the bank has been issuing such notice for other borrowers as well with technical infirmities.
AIBEA's Venkatachalam told IANS: "Obviously it is politics. The auction notice was withdrawn due to adverse publicity to the BJP. They are no different. We demand a thorough investigation into this as to who had issued the first advertisement and who had decided to withdraw the same and why. There should be accountability for this."