Karnataka High Court has recently stopped the Karnataka Adjudicator from discharging his duty as an Adjudicator of Karnataka by granting a stay of proceedings on a petition of Axis Bank Vs Gujarat PtroSynthese Ltd complaint.
This decision has been given by a Vacation Judge and the case is being heard again on 27th of this month when the Court has an opportunity to remove the interim stay granted.
The Stay has indirectly opened a debate on how should the Adjudicator respond when he himself is a judicial authority and is now sandwiched between two other Judicial authorities namely the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission which says- Go Ahead and continue your enquiry while the High Court vacation bench says, “Stop”. The disputed adjudication process had been stopped on a legally untenable jurisdictional objection which the Human Rights Commission took notice. The Adjudicator also obtained a report from the State Law Department which also confirmed that the jurisdictional objection raised by Axis Bank and accepted by the then Adjudicator was untenable under law.
It would have been better if the Karnataka High Court had avoided interference in the functioning of another judicial authority before a more serious examination of the facts of the case. The Court could have waited for the Adjudicator to complete his award one way or the other and then took an appeal if preferred. The Court also could have waited for the affected respondents to respond. But the vacation bench seemed to be in a hurry to grant a stay when the next proceeding in the Adjudication was due only on May 31 and there was no need for an interim stay until 27th.
I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the High Court of Karnataka that Cyber Crime is a growing menace in the society and amongst the crimes, the Bank frauds are one on which we should be concerned as a national security issue. Hence if the High Court needs to consider stopping remedies of a hurt victim, it should be only after proper consideration of evidence. It is regrettable that some petitioners misuse the vacation bench to get interim stays citing some urgency and obtain a stay as a matter of routine when even a notice has not been served on the opposing party, thus denying justice to the common man.
The Court may observe that today one more case similar to the Axis Bank case has been reported from Mumbai where a sum of 2.41 core has been fraudulently withdrawn from the account of the RPG group (See report) in 13 transfers within three hours. ( The Bank involved is believed to be “Yes Bank”.) The Judges should understand the impact of such crimes on the society. The hurdles created in the judicial process only help the fraudsters and Banks who through their negligence and colluding staff make such frauds possible. I wish the conventional court judges peruse the orders of Adjudicators of Tamil Nadu (Mr P WC Davidar) and Maharasahtra (Mr Rajesh Aggarwal) to understand the complexities involved rather than jumping to issue orders based solely on the representations of one of the affected parties.
The decision of the vacation bench of Karnataka High Court in the Axis Bank case effectively supports the view that RPG group cannot get their grievances redressed under ITA 2008 and the hackers cannot be considered to have committed offence of “hacking” under Section 66. Police in Mumbai have already arrested a few persons in connection with the crime and I hope the Court will face an embarrassment when the hackers invoke the Karnataka High Court order to defend their case.
Let’s wish that the Court hearing the petition on 27th makes amends and withdraws the interim stay granted and lets the system of Adjudication rolls on as envisaged in ITA 2008.