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A Landmark Judgment: An Analysis of the Definition of ‘Agricultural Land’ in Debt Recovery Proceedings

A Landmark Judgment: An Analysis of the Definition of ‘Agricultural Land’ in Debt Recovery Proceedings


The recent judgment by the Kerala High Court, presided over by Mr. Justice K. Babu, in the case of “Thara Philip Vs. Federal Bank Ltd.” offers a significant interpretation of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) and its implications on debt recovery proceedings. This case critically examines the contentious issue of whether a property mortgaged under the SARFAESI Act qualifies as ‘agricultural land’.

Key Judgments on Agricultural Land in SARFAESI Act

  1. Nature of Agricultural Land: The Court reiterated that the definition of  is a factual determination, relying on previous judgments like “Indian Bank v. K. Pappireddiyar” and “K. Sreedhar v. Raus Constructions (P) Ltd.”.
  2. Jurisdiction of Debt Recovery Tribunal: The court emphasized that such factual disputes should be adjudicated by the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT), as per the SARFAESI Act’s provisions.
  3. SARFAESI Act as a Self-Contained Code: The SARFAESI Act was highlighted as a comprehensive legislation providing effective remedies for anyone aggrieved by proceedings initiated under Section 13.
  4. Alternative Remedy Principle: The court cited several apex court judgments to underscore the principle of alternative remedy, suggesting that writ petitions should not be entertained when an effective statutory remedy is available.

Analysis and Implications  on Agricultural Land in SARFAESI Act

This judgment is a landmark in understanding the scope of ‘agricultural land’ under the SARFAESI Act. It underscores the importance of the DRT in resolving such disputes. It affirms the principle of exhausting statutory remedies before approaching higher courts.

Conclusion in SARFAESI Act’s Provisions on Agricultural Land

The Kerala High Court’s ruling in “Thara Philip Vs. Federal Bank Ltd.” serves as a precedent in interpreting the SARFAESI Act’s provisions on agricultural land. It reinforces the act’s status as a self-contained code and delineates the jurisdictional boundaries for adjudicating disputes related to secured assets.

Relevant Provisions of SARFAESI Act

Section Provision
Section 31(i) of SARFAESI Act Exempts Rural Property from the purview of the Act.
Section 13 of SARFAESI Act Allows banks and other financial institutions to enforce their security interest without the intervention of the court.

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