A day after J&K High Court issued a notice in a plea seeking interest waiver on loans, the business fraternity said they were optimistic that the decision would be taken keeping in view the major economic slump the Valley witnessed post 5 August 2019.
J&K High Court on Thursday asked the Union Home Ministry and Finance Ministry, and RBI, J&K government and J&K Bank to respond to a plea seeking waiver of interest on loans for “moratorium” periods granted in the wake of COVID-19, natural calamity, and disturbances in J&K since 2014.
A bench of Justices Ali Muhammad Magrey and Rajnesh Oswal has sought the response by July 20.
The petition is being filed for the benefit of persons belonging to Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, who have availed loan facilities from different banks but on account of present pandemic - COVID-19, are not in a position to pay due installments which include the interest charged on the loan amount.
In their plea filed through senior advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, president of Restaurant and Cafe Association Kashmir Sheikh Feroz Ahmad and president, Industrial Revival and Development Forum, Kashmir, Muhammad Muzamil Bacha sought wavier of interest on loans.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation ( KTMF) spokesperson Farhan Kitab said it was a known fact that the traders had suffered huge losses since 5 August 2019, "therefore on the humanitarian ground, some respite should be provided to shopkeepers who have taken loans from the bank".
Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA) President Abdul Majid also said that a waiver on loan interest should be granted to the Kashmir-based business fraternity.
"Keeping in view the economic derailment for the past one year in the Valley we have full faith in the court to provide us some relief," he said. "Many businessmen genuinely can't pay the interest on loans."
The petitioners contend that they have filed the PIL for the benefit of persons belonging to J&K and Ladakh, who have availed loan facilities from different banks as in the face of lockdown announced by the government in the wake of COVID-19 they were not in a position to pay the due installments as also the interest charged on the loan amounts.
“We seek waiving of interest on all term loans for the period relating to natural calamity, disturbances of 2016 and 2019 and that of the present COVID-19 pandemic as well as for the period moratorium has been granted in terms of notification dated 27 March 2020, circular dated 3 of January 2020, circular dated 15th December 2016 and circular dated 24 October 2014,” the petitioners pleaded.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) General Secretary Farooq Amin said the government should own the responsibility and compensate the business fraternity that had incurred losses during COVID-19 lockdown.
"This current lockdown is not of our doing. It was the government that locked down all business activities. So it is their duty to compensate our losses," Amin said. " I hope the court takes this point into consideration."