Kerala HC comes to aid of Karuvannur bank’s borrower who repaid loan but didn’t get deed back

In a relief for one of the borrowers of scam-hit Karuvannur Cooperative bank, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed that if he moves the bank for his title deed after clearing his dues, it shall approach the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to return the same.

The order was welcomed by Kerala Minister for Cooperation and Registration V N Vasavan, who said the Court’s decision would benefit many similarly situated borrowers whose title deeds have been taken into custody by the ED in connection with its probe into the multi-crore Karuvannur bank scam.

The High Court’s order came on a plea by an 80-year-old man — Francis — from Thrissur who claimed that despite repaying his loan in full, the bank has neither returned the title deed of his property nor executed a release deed.

The bank claimed in the court that the petitioner — Francis — never approached it for the title deed.

It also said that the title deed was in the custody of the ED.

The ED told the court that if the bank sends an application for return of the title deed, the agency shall consider whether the deed is required to be retained and if not, the same shall be returned to the bank.

“In the light of the above, it is ordered that if the petitioner makes a request before the second respondent Bank (Karuvannur) for the return of the title deed and execution of Release Deed after closure of the liability, appropriate steps in the light of the submissions noted above shall be taken. Writ Petition is disposed of as above,” Justice Sathish Ninan said.

Vasavan said that ED took into custody 162 deeds in connection with loans of around Rs 184 crore.

He claimed that many people who came to close their liabilities could not do so as the deeds were with the ED.

“The taking away of the deeds did not serve any purpose. If the ED needed them as part of their probe, they could have taken copies.

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“Their actions were intended to hamper the functioning of the bank and the cooperative sector as a whole. Their conduct vindicates our stand that the probe is politically motivated,” the minister claimed.

The Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the multi-crore Karuvannur bank scam, had last week arrested a local CPI(M) leader and Wadakkanchery Municipal Councillor P R Aravindakshan.

The agency also arrested a former employee of the bank C K Jills, who allegedly syphoned off Rs 5 crore in bank funds.

The ED had earlier arrested two people in connection with the alleged issuance of ‘benami’ loans from the bank.

On September 11, CPI(M) leader and MLA A C Moideen was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED.

The investigation into the alleged fraud, beginning in 2010, in the Thrissur-based bank stems from 16 FIRs registered by the Kerala Police (crime branch) in Thrissur.

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