The only thing that stood between the Ishwarbhai Verma brothers of Gujarat and a 79-acres land was thirty-one paise. In December 2019, Rakesh Ishwarbhai Verma and Manoj Ishwarbhai Verma bought a piece of land in the Zolapur village of Sanand taluka in Ahmedabad. However, receiving land ownership has been quite a task for them.
The brothers have not been able to acquire their land because the State Bank of India has not issued a ‘no-dues certificate’ to the previous owner. The bank provides a no-dues certificate to the account holder. It mentions that the borrower has repaid the entire loan, and there are no more pending dues.
The revenue department rejected the Verma brother’s application without transferring their names to the land’s ownership. They sent three notices to the bank, but the bank was not in the mood to answer any of them. The State Bank of India declined to accept cheques of ₹.031. Finding the situation out of hand, Vermas knocked on the doors of the deputy collector.
After one year of buying the land, in December 2020, the duo filed Special Civil Application number 15691 in Gujarat High Court. They requested the court to give an order to the bank to receive the pending amount of ‘thirty-one paise.’ Ultimately, on May 2, 2022, the court ordered the SBI to accept the due 31 paise and begin transferring the land ownership process.
The Vermas filed the petition with the help of lawyer Jinesh H. Kapadia. The dispute came before the Gujarat High Court 15 times before the bench could come to a firm decision. However, on April 27, during the semi-final hearing, the bar criticised the bank for not issuing the no-dues certificate.
Hearing the case was Justice Bhargav D. Karia, who snapped at the bank’s counsel advocate BB Gogia. During the court session, Justice Karia said, “The Banking Regulation Act provides that anything less than 50 paise does not count as outstanding dues. Call the manager here.”
The following day, the SBI issued the pending ‘no-dues certificate.’ However, the bank held the claims false, frivolous, and vexatious and justified its actions. SBI officials informed the court that the loan had become a non-performing asset in 2018. The last owners began to repay the loans in installments from July 2019. They paid the final installment in January 2022.