The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the problem in the country’s economy was created due to the government’s decision to impose strict lockdown earlier this year and it was concerned about the plight of the common man.
The strict nationwide lockdown was imposed in March this year to curb the spread of coronavirus which brought almost all economic activity to a halt.
Hearing a case pertaining to the loan moratorium announced by the RBI, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah asked the Centre to clear its stand on the charging of additional interest by banks during the moratorium period and asked why it had not yet filed an affidavit in the matter.
“You clear your stand. You say RBI has taken the decision; we have gone through RBI reply but Centre is hiding behind the RBI,” the bench said.
The Supreme Court bench also asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Centre, to give a timeline as to when the government will file the affidavit in the loan moratorium case.
Mehta then sought a one-week extension to file the affidavit.
Expressing concern about the current economic situation, Justice Shah even told Mehta that this is not the time for the Centre to think about “business”. The apex court observed that the matter has been hanging for a long time.
“You cannot be interested only in business and not about sufferings of people,” said the court.
“The problem has been created by your (Centre`s) lockdown. This is also not the time to consider the business. The plight of people has to be considered also,” the bench observed.
The apex court was hearing a plea challenging the levy of interest on loan repayments during the moratorium. The matter will be heard next on September 1.
The RBI had announced an optional 6-month moratorium for customers towards fixed-term loans and EMI payments. The moratorium period ends on August 31.
A petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to all the banks to extend the moratorium period till December 31 to ensure helping the borrowers in deferring their EMI payment on term loans.
In June, the Supreme Court pulled up the Central government and asked it to step up and take a stand over the issue related to charging interest on EMIs during the six month moratorium period granted in view of COVID-19 pandemic.