ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday extended its stay order restraining a bank from collecting its loan instalment from a customer amid the financial woes caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
It also directed the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) to appoint focal persons at its regional offices to inform the public about State Bank’s one-year relief on the payment of loan instalments.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah resumed the hearing of a petition filed by the customer against the alleged harassment by the bank’s employees for the payment of the instalment.
The applicant, Rafiqur Rehman, said the banks were pestering their clients whose incomes have shrunk by the cessation of business activities. He had requested the court either to waive the loan installment or suspend them till the pandemic is over.
Rehman – a Careem captain – told the court that he had obtained a loan from the NRSP to buy a motorcycle. Because of the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the disease, he said his business had been suspended for several weeks.
He said it was not possible for him to pay the instalment in the prevailing circumstances. He added that he had sent several letters to various authorities but no response was received as yet. “Despite the exceptional circumstances and the lockdown, I am being harassed to pay the instalment,” he said.
During the course of proceedings, NRSP Chief Executive Rashid Bajwa appeared before the bench and adopted the stance that the State Bank had extended the time for the payment of instalments by a year.
He said the NRSP had to take loans from commercial banks to give small loans to people.
If the amount was not paid to the commercial banks, they could stop giving loans, he added.
The IHC chief justice noted that the NRSP had raised a very important point before the court.
The court asked the SBP representative regarding its policy for the payment of instalments.
The chief justice said the general public was unaware about the one year extension for the payment of instalments. He directed the NRSP to appoint focal persons at its regional offices to inform the public about the relief.
During an earlier hearing, the deputy attorney general had informed the court that the government has extended the period of loan payment by a year to provide relief to people.
He said that the State Bank had announced a policy for loan payment and it was available on its website.
(With additional input from APP)