In 2004, the Sonali Bank filed a case at the Chattogram Money Loan Court against five business entities of the Saleh Group on the charge of defaulting on loans worth Tk250 crore. But the case filed by the Agrabad Corporate Branch of the bank is still pending after 16 years.
In fact, most of the cases filed at this court have not been resolved. The Chattogram Money Loan Court was established in Chattogram in 2003. Court officials said most of the cases filed in 2004, 2005 and 2006 are still pending.
Nurun Nabi, assistant general manager of Sonali Bank's Agrabad Branch, said, "We have filed 50 cases against different organisations to recover default loans of around Tk400 crore."
Abul Hasan Sahabuddin, Sonali Bank's lawyer in the case against Saleh Group, said, "The case is yet to be resolved because of the non-cooperation of defendants. The number of cases has been increasing in the Money Loan Court because borrowers do not have the mentality to repay their loans."
He said, "Two more Money Loan Courts are needed in Chattogram to resolve the pending cases."
Lawyers said many cases have been pending for years because the defendants do not turn up for hearings, the reluctance of bank officials to cooperate, and the shortage of judges.
They said most of the cases filed at the Money Loan Court get stuck after the defendants file a writ petition at the High Court.
Some blame the rising number of pending cases on dishonest bank officials who do not provide necessary documents to the court because they take illegal benefits from loan defaulters.
Dr Selim Uddin, chairman of the executive committee of Islami Bank, said, "The defendants use illegal means to influence the case. Some dishonest bank officials do not cooperate with the court in order to hide their own corruption."
An inadequate budget of the banks to continue the cases is also a reason for the number of pending cases, he said.
"Sometimes it takes a lot of money to continue a case. Many banks cannot provide the money. As a result, the case gets stuck in limbo," said Dr Selim Uddin.
In 2007, only 106 cases were filed at the Chattogram Money Loan Court. But the number of cases has increased in recent years. According to the court, 221 cases were filed in 2012, 467 in 2013, 454 in 2014, 958 in 2015, 744 in 2016, 668 in 2017, 599 in 2018 and 536 cases in 2019.