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Say Enough! Rowdy recovery agents may face jail

Don’t worry or panic if recovery agents threaten, just go to nearest police station and complain against them and their company.

After demonetisation, the city lenders such as banks and private finance companies become more aggressive in collections and revenue generations. There is rise in atrocities and harassments faced by the people of Mumbai with regard to the excess powers that are being used by the rowdy like recovery agents of the banks. The recent verdict of Bombay High Court has deterred the recovery agents. Rising interest rates, coupled with high inflation, have sent the monthly budgets of many household for a toss. If you are unable to pay monthly credit card dues or struggling to service home, car or personal loan EMIs, you could have already faced a recovery agent—or may do so in the near future.

Justice A M Badar was recently hearing a petition filed by Gurunath Gawli and Sangita Gawli, both licensed money lenders, seeking discharge from a case of abetment of suicide. Rebuffing discharge pleas of two money lenders, the Bombay High Court has said that continuous verbal and physical abuse and repeated demand for return of money amounts to abetment of suicide.

The duos were accused of assaulting and intimidating Umesh Bomble, a city resident, and abetting his suicide in September 2014. His wife Sunita had filed a complaint against the duo. According to the prosecution, the victim had taken a loan of Rs. 19 lakh from the accused. When he failed to repay, the duo allegedly harassed him and on various occasions verbally abused and even assaulted him.

The court noted that continuously attacking a family man, both verbally and physically, in presence of his family members at his home and at his work place amounts to “instigation and provocation” to commit suicide.

“Cornered to a wall by such behaviour of the accused, the victim Umesh was bound to think that it is better to die rather than suffer such humiliations in front of his children and other family members,” said Justice Badar while dismissing the discharge plea.

In a shocking incident, Mumbai resident Prakash Sarvankar, 38, an ICICI Bank Ltd customer who had taken a Rs.50,000 personal loan, committed suicide in 2007—accusing a recovery agent for his death. Such incidents have made the recovery agent a feared character. There are many cases in the city where people have gone through miserable condition due to recovery agents.

RBI has issued guidelines on training recovery agents and the methods they can adopt for collection.

“All our agents have gone through the approved and mandatory training as per the regulator’s guidelines,” said Manju Bhatia, Joint Managing Director, Vasuli.com, a recovery firm which deals with collections on secured loans.

The Private Banks have been tightened, there is no way for revenue extra generations such as currency transfers, and there is a drastic decrease in a number of banking transactions, banks are victimizing the account holders and borrowers with fraudulent service charges. Non-maintenance of Monthly Account Balance (MAB) is charged heavily, digital transaction charges are indirectly costing too much. Well, such charges are being exorbitant on one side, and on the other hand loan accounts are facing indirect interest rates related to frauds and thrusting on the Non-Performance Assets and personal loan outstanding.

“You have a right to privacy. The recovery agent cannot discuss the debt of one person with others. So don’t panic if he threatens to tell neighbours or co-workers about your debt. If he does so, you can file a complaint against him with the bank. The recovery agent also has no right to use abusive language. They cannot behave in indecent way with you. You can lodge a complaint with nearest police station, if they do so,” said Advocate Gloria Pandey.

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