LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has ruled that the financial institutions are not required to obtain a decree from banking court to sell mortgaged properties to recover defaulted loans.

Announcing a majority judgment on a set of petitions regarding recovery of loans under Finance Institutions (recovery of finances) Ordinance 2001, a five-member larger bench on Tuesday sustained section 15 of the ordinance, which allows the banks and financial institutions to sell mortgaged property for recovery of a defaulted loan after fulfilling certain conditions.

Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh headed the larger bench with Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, Justice Jawad Hassan and Justice Asim Hafeez.

A detailed judgement will be released soon.

Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh dissented from the major view.

A single bench in 2016 had suspended section 15 of the ordinance as it was argued on behalf of the petitioners (industries and individuals) that the section had been reintroduced through Financial Institutions (recovery of finances) Amendment Act 2016 and was not sustainable in the light of Supreme Court’s judgments.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, during July 2019, at a ceremony of “Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme” had referred to the matter and requested the then chief justice for an early disposal of the petitions. Later, then chief justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan had fixed hearing of the matter before the larger bench.

During a previous hearing, a federal government law officer had urged the bench to recall the stay order as the government had been facing a huge loss in terms of non recovery of defaulted loans worth billions of rupees.

He said it happened nowhere in the world that people refused to return loans.

He argued that the financial institutions should be allowed to auction the mortgaged properties to recover the defaulted loans.

The lawyers from the petitioners’ side had argued that the mortgaged properties could not be put to auction without calculation of payable amount. They said the mortgaged properties of the petitioners had never been evaluated. They said the section 15 of the ordinance was contrary to various provisions of the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2020

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