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DRT Not Empowered In Law To Restrain A Debtor’s Fundamental Right To Travel Abroad: Bombay High Court

[08 June 2022] The Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot restrain a citizen from travelling abroad since there is no specific or implied provision empowering it under the Recovery of Debts Due To Banks and Financial Institutions Act 1993, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court held. The bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and Amit Borkar observed that a citizen’s right to travel abroad forms part of “personal liberty” defined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, to restrain a person from travelling abroad, it was necessary to have such a provision under the Act. Observing thus, the bench set aside the DRT’s order and allowed the petitioner to travel to Turkey for a wedding in the family. “The State has not made any law or provision in the said Act seeking to deprive or regulate the right of a person to travel abroad. The order is, therefore, liable to be set aside.”
The Court also said that the DRT wasn’t allowed to exceed its powers conferred by the CPC to ensure natural justice with reference to section 22 of the Act. “In our view, Section 22 confers the procedural right to regulate proceedings before it.” Referring to subsections sub sections 12, 13(A), 17 and 18 of Section 19, which empowers the tribunal to pass orders necessary to give effect to its orders, prevent abuse of its process or secure the ends of its justice, the bench held that a person cannot be restrained from travelling abroad under these sections. “In the absence of a specific provision conferred on the Debt Recovery Tribunal by statute, the Debt Recovery Tribunal has no power to restrain a citizen from travelling abroad, particularly when the said right has been recognised as a facet of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

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