Under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002(hereinafter referred as 'the Act') limited powers are vested with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and District Magistrate. In the case of Kerala, Chief Judicial Magistrate is empowered to exercise the powers vested under Section 14 of the Act. Recently the High Court of Kerala has rendered a decision bringing into light the fact that there is only limited powers granted under Section 14 of the Act.
As per Section 14 of the Act, the Chief Judicial Magistrate(in Kerala) shall take possession of secured asset and documents relating thereto and forward such assets and documents to the secured creditor whenever a request for that is made by the secured creditor before him. The property or documents must be situated or found within the jurisdiction of such Magistrate. As per sub-section 2 of Section 14 of the Act, the Magistrate may take or cause to be taken such steps and use, or cause to be used, such force, for taking possession of such property.
In South Indian Bank Ltd. v. Union of India reported in 2010(4) KLT 657, the role of Chief Judicial Magistrate/District Magistrate as envisaged under Section 14 is considered. In this case the notice send to guarantor under Section 13(2) is unclaimed. The 'authorised officer' gave a copy of notice directly to the guarantor against proper acknowledgement. Later they were proceeded against under Section 14 of the Act. The Chief Judicial Magistrate however rejected the application on the ground that the service of notice as stated above cannot be accepted as proper service.
The High Court when setting aside the said order laid down that the Magistrate has only a limited jurisdiction. His duty is only to see whether the property is a 'secured asset' or not. The jurisdiction can be exercised with regard to the assistance to be given to take physical possession of property/secured asset.