Bankers plan to seek safeguards against undue vigilance action – The Economic Times

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Industry chambers and financial institutions, including non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), have been invited to the conference.

Bankers will seek a more robust framework for protecting them from any undue vigilance action in bona fide commercial decisions at a stakeholder conference on November 17-18 organised by the government to address issues relating to credit flow into different sectors of the economy.

Industry chambers and financial institutions, including non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), have been invited to the conference.

A senior bank executive told ET that a representation had been made to the finance ministry on this count.

Besides the finance ministry, senior officials from other ministries will also be a part of this stakeholder conference and provide insights to projects in the pipeline in their respective areas. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet bankers, including from the private sector, financial institutions and other stakeholders at the two-day meeting.

“We want bankers to be protected under Section 197 of The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and bring them on a par with other government officials,” the bank executive said. “We will bring this to the attention of the finance minister.”

Under Section 197, a court cannot take cognisance of a criminal charge against a public servant unless there is prior sanction from the competent authority to prosecute him.

The move comes in the backdrop of Rajasthan police arresting former State Bank of India chairman Pratip Chaudhuri in relation to a complaint by a loan defaulter.

The government had, recently, issued a circular that laid down the standard operating procedure for processing cases under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the guidelines, any police inquiry on decisions taken by public servants in discharge of their duties need prior nod from the competent authority.

“These guidelines were flouted and hence it is necessary that a more robust framework should be put in place,” said another bank executive.

Last month, the finance ministry had advised state-run lenders to adopt broad guidelines on ‘Staff Accountability Framework for NPA Accounts up to ₹50 crore (Other than Fraud Cases)’. The new guidelines are aimed to protect bank staff taking commercial decisions as well as to ensure faster dispensation of vigilance cases while taking into account employees’ past track record.

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