Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea by pre-schools for moratorium on loan repayment 


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the Centre and RBI that those running playschools be granted “interest-free moratorium period for term loans” and that their EMI be deferred till the corona situation subsides.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai, however, granted liberty to the petitioner to approach the RBI with his representation “How can the court grant the relief you are asking for in this petition. You make a representation they will decide but don’t file petitions like this. It’s not within the realm of this court to provide what you are asking for and the relaxations you are seeking,” the bench said.

At this juncture, advocate Rohit Pandey, appearing for the petitioner, sought liberty to approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with his representation.

The top court then granted liberty to the petitioner that he may approach the RBI.

“We would not like to entertain this writ petition. However, the petitioner is granted liberty to approach the RBI which may suitably decide the representation in accordance with law,” the bench said.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by The Indian Council of Early Childhood Educators and Institutions (ICECEI), having professional individuals, groups, pre and play schools as members, seeking a direction that the loans availed by such institutions be not declared non-performing assets (NPAs) due to non-payment of EMIs during the second wave.

The plea said like regular schools, they are not earning by imparting online education to toddlers.

“The present writ petition is filed to enforce fundamental rights, particularly the right to livelihood and right to dignity which is enshrined under Article 21 by seeking directions to take effective and remedial measures to redress and overcome the financial stress and hardship faced by pre-schools across the country during the second wave of COVID-19 in the form of fresh loan moratorium, extension of time period under the restructuring scheme and temporary cease on the declaration of NPA by financial banks,” said the plea.

Unlike other schools which are into online education mode, these institutions cannot impart education through such mediums to toddlers and hence, have become unable to earn, it said.

The plea filed through ICECEI’s President Yash Pal Singh referred to the RBI’s notifications issued last year by which the relief of suspension of monthly loan instalment was granted to borrowers.

“The Central Government and its ministries concerned along with the Reserve Bank of India has failed to bring in any such relief in this present situation for all those stressed sectors and individuals for whom sustenance and existence has been a question,” the plea said.

The second wave of COVID-19 has shaken the health care and financial system, it said, adding the government be asked to permit lending institutions to grant interest-free moratorium period for term loan and defer the payment of loan instalments for a period of six months or till situation from COVID-19 normalises.

“Issue writ to ensure that all the lending Institutions … must not take the recent 16 months of the loan repayment track, Credit Score and Credit Report into consideration while scrutiny/processing the loan application or extending any grant /relief packages released by respondent Centre to the benefit of pre/playschools,” it said.

It also sought a direction that financial institutions shall not take action for auctioning respect of any property of any citizen or person or party or any body corporate for a period of two years, the plea said.