By: Rita Ghose, Date: 2008-10-27
Padmashree Mohammed Rafi, the legendary singer, who passed away in 1980, has always been revered worldover for not just his talent, but also for the truly wonderful human being he was. Yet, 28 years after his death, a recovery agent from ICICI Bank used words to describe him that we cannot print in a family paper.
Why? Because Rafi’s son Shahid defaulted on a Rs 6.5 lakh loan with the bank. Said Shahid Rafi (47), “A week ago, the recovery agent called me and said, ‘Yeh tere baap ka paisa nahin hai and used expletives against both my father and my mother. I can’t bring myself to tell you the words he used.”
He added, “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He had a problem with me, why abuse my parents?
I was frightened, angry, upset, and I decided I would file a suit. The man also called my wife and threatened her saying, ‘Tere shauhar ne paisa khaya, ab tu bhi khayegi kya?’ He also said he would beat her up.”
The RBI says
On April 24, 2008, the Reserve Bank of India asked banks to take complete responsibility for recovery agents to avert disputes and litigations arising out of high-handed loan recovery practices and warned of a ban on their deployment if found engaged in abusive practices. Banks were asked to use the forum of Lok Adalats for recovery of personal loans, credit card loans or housing loans of less than Rs 10 lakh as suggested by the apex court.
Rafi said he has crores
On October 24, Rafi filed a case against Rakesh Sinha (name changed) the recovery agent from ICICI Bank for ‘intentional insult to provoke breach of peace’ and ‘criminal intimidation’.
He said, “I took a Rs 6.5 lakh loan in 2006 for my garment factory in Goregaon, but it shut down in October 2007. Yes, I have defaulted on my EMIs as the closure meant huge losses. The fact is, I have also taken loans from four other banks, but they’ve all given me more time. ICICI Bank, on the other hand, has been extremely aggressive.”
Rafi added that he was no thief and would repay the loans. “I paid all my workers their dues. I have never robbed anyone.” Two months ago, Rafi began operations at a call centre in Goregaon for a mobile service provider. “I bought the property a couple of years ago and I will use the income repay my loans,” he said.
We checked this out and it’s true. Rafi was repaying a collection officer from one of the bank’s he borrowed from when we visited his office on Friday. The bank officer said, “I am here to collect some of the money. Rafi has been very cordial and our bank has waived of the late fees, which we only do for bankable customers.”
Earlier that afternoon, Rakesh Sinha, the recovery agent for ICICI Bank approached this reporter complaining against Rafi.
He said, “Shahid Rafi keeps taking his father’s name and tries to use that against us. Rafi told me he has at least Rs 100 crore abroad, but won’t pay up”.
However Rafi rubbished the claim and said he had never cashed in on his father’s name. And for the record, it was this paper which approached Rafi, not the other way round.
The personal collections manager of ICICI Bank, Andheri (E) said, “He has 16 cheque bounces and 12 installments are due. If the recovery agent has erred, the bank will investigate and take appropriate action.”
Meanwhile, P P Dubey, Rafi’s lawyer said, “Without following due process of law, no bank can recover money. A recover agent has no authority to recover dues through threats or abuses. They should’ve filed a recovery suit in the civil court.”
A history of abuse
September 18, 2007: Prakash Sarvankar (38) committed suicide leaving a note stating he had been receiving threats from ICICI Bank’s loan recovery agents.
June 2007: Recovery agents of ICICI Bank allegedly beat a customer to death at Hyderabad, in order to recover a loan of Rs 15,000.
A 75-year-old widow Prakash Kaur from Kanpur complained about the bank sending goondas to recover dues. She had defaulted in only one installment of the 33 taken.
courtesy – Mid Day, Mumbai. To read original story please visit following link