The Debts Recovery Tribunal have been constituted under Section 3 of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993. The original aim of the Debts Recovery Tribunal was to receive claim applications from Banks and Financial Institutions against their defaulting borrowers. For this the Debts Recovery Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 1993 were also drafted.
While initially the Debts Recovery Tribunals did perform well and helped the Banks and Financial Institutions recover substantially large parts of their non performing assets, or their bad debts as they are commonly known, but their progress was stunted when it came to large and powerful borrowers. These borrowers were able to stall the progress in the Debts Recovery Tribunals on various grounds, primarily on the ground that their claims against the lenders were pending in the civil courts, and if the Debts Recovery Tribunal were adjudicate the matter and auction off their properties irreparable damage would occur to them.
Apart from the above big lacunae, there were a number of short comings too. The dues of work men against a company, the State dues, and the dues of other non secured creditors all got enmeshed before the Debt Recovery Tribunals. As if these were not sufficient, there was clash of jurisdiction between the Official Liquidators appointed by the High Courts and the Recovery Officers of the Debts Recovery Tribunals. The Official Liquidator, an appointee of a superior authority, took into his possession all the properties, which actually belonged to secured creditors who before the Debts Recovery Tribunal. The High Courts also took umbrage on the activities of the Recovery Officers who away the entire amounts and paid off to the banks leaving nothing for the other claimants, including the work men. All these and other issues lead to drastic amendments to the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act by means of an amending notification in the year 2000.
While the amending notification of 2000 did bring in some amount rationalization in the jurisdiction of the Debts Recovery Tribunal, yet it was not sufficient to coax the big borrowers to acquiesce to the jurisdiction of the Debts Recovery Tribunal easily. The lenders continued to groan under the weight of the Non Performing Assets. This led to the enactment of one more drastic act titled as the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests Act, also called as SRFAESI Act or SRFAESIA for short.
This new Act, the SRFAESI Act, empowered the lenders to take into their possession the secured assets of their borrowers just by giving them notices, and without the need to go through the rigors of a Court procedure. Initially this brought in lot of compliance from borrowers and many a seasoned defaulter coughed up the Bank dues. However the tougher ones punched whole in the new Act too. This led Supreme court striking down certain provisions and allowing the borrowers an adjudicatory forum before their properties could be taken over by the lenders.
And the adjudicatory forum turned out to be the Debts Recovery Tribunal. The Debts Recovery Tribunal now deal with two different Acts, namely the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act as well as the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests Act. While the aim of the both the Acts is one and the same, but their route is different.
The Debts Recovery Tribunal have to deal with extraordinary complex commercial laws within the narrow ambit of the two laws. Over the years the Debts Recovery Tribunals have evolved into fine bodies with lot of expertise. There is a plethora of judgments from the Supreme Court as well as the various High Courts which have paved the way of the Debts Recovery Tribunals to chart their courses. The Debts Recovery Tribunal of India have become model institutions for many a country to follow.