NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: As crisis-hit PMC bank depositors intensified their protests, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Friday an urgent plea seeking directions for interim measures to safeguard the money of customers blocked in the bank.
The plea on Wednesday for the apex court to step in amid 3 deaths linked to the crisis in the Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative(PMC) Bank came even as the bank's administrator met the RBI's top brass including Governor Shaktikanta Das and assured depositors that all efforts will be made to safeguard their interests.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed restrictions on the bank following the discovery of a Rs 4,355-crore scam. The limit on deposit withdrawals that has now been capped at Rs 40,000 over a six-month period has caused panic and distress among the depositors.
A Mumbai court, meanwhile, remanded two top HDIL officials and the PMC Bank's former chairman in judicial custody till October 23 in connection with the scam.
Outside the court, several depositors protested demanding that their money be returned. There were also protests by the depositors outside the RBI office in Delhi.
The three accused--Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd's (HDIL) chairman and managing director Rakesh Wadhawan, his son Sarang Wadhawan and PMC Bank's former chairman Waryam Singh--were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate S G Shaikh as their custody ended on Wednesday.
In the apex court, the plea for urgent listing was mentioned before a bench of justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
"Upon oral mentioning made by the petitioner-in-person seeking urgent listing of the matter, the registry is directed to list this matter on Friday, the 18th October, 2019 before an appropriate bench, subject to curing of defects," the bench said.
The petition sought a direction for issuance of "exhaustive and comprehensive guideline" to safeguard the banking and cooperative deposits in the eventuality of emergency financial crisis where citizens are financially stranded by the acts of a few "unscrupulous persons". It claimed the bank had 15 lakh depositors.
The plea, filed by Delhi-based Bejon Kumar Misra, said the Centre and the RBI should be directed to ensure complete insulation and insurance of the hard-earned deposited money of people in various cooperative banks, including nationalised banks, by enacting an appropriate measure of 100 per cent insurance coverage towards the deposited amount.
The petition, has also sought quashing of the RBI notification restricting the limit of withdrawal of the deposits.
In Mumbai, J B Bhoria, who was placed as the bank's administrator last month by the RBI, released a press statement after his meeting with the RBI's top brass.
"It was assured that the bank will make all efforts to safeguard the interests of depositors and other stakeholders," the statement said.
The statement also said the bank is in the process of recasting its balance sheet to present a "true and fair picture".
HDIL allegedly accounted for 70 per cent of the bank's Rs 9,000 crore advances. According to the Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing, HDIL's loans turned non-performing assets, but the bank management allegedly hid this from the RBI's scrutiny.
In a related development, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police called Surjit Singh Arora, one of the former directors of the PMC bank, for questioning.