Publishing of Defaulter’s Photo in Newspaper Is Illegal

Published on: 16 Aug, 2013
Published under: Cochin District News, General Kerala News, Thiruvananthapuram District News

14 August 2013

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held State Bank of India (SBI)’s decision to publish photos of load defaulters in newspapers as ‘arbitrary and illegal’. The Court said that the threat held out by banks to publish photos of defaulters in newspapers lacked legislative sanction.

Allowing writ petitions filed by two defaulters against the SBI notice, Justice V Chitambaresh said, “The practice of exhibiting a photograph of a person and shamming him in public for the sin of being in an impecunious condition cannot be encouraged in civilized societies like ours.”

The move was clearly an affront to the right to live with dignity and honor as well as the right to privacy of the loanees and such publication of photographs therefore, violates the rights guaranteed to the loanees under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the court held.

During the hearing, SBI contended that terms and conditions of the loan agreements allowed them to publish defaulters’ photographs in newspapers. But the HC pointed out that there was no provision in the Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules (SARFAESI) that enables banks to threaten to publish photograph of defaulters.

The HC pointed out that the clause in the agreement at best empowered the bank to reveal only the names of borrowers in the print media or to disclose the information and details relating to the credit facility. “Even if there was such a permissive clause, the loanees would not (be) stopped from challenging the action of a bank on the ground of violation of fundamental rights of loanees,” the court said.

The High Court said the power of banks to sell mortgaged land should be used in a discreet, as opposed to destructive, manner. “Bank should try to sell the minimum extent of land of the defaulter, the sale price of which will be sufficient to discharge the debt and allow the defaulter to retain his remaining property,” the Court said.


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