Kerala student’s suicide over loan default notice reopens questions on Sarfaesi Act

Twenty-year-old Abhirami was upset when bank officials stuck a notice outside her house in Kollam, attaching the property for loan default.
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Three days ago, Abhirami found a notice stuck outside her house in Kollam by the Kerala Bank, attaching the property for defaulting on a loan. Abhirami, only 20 years old, was upset by the board and pleaded with her father to remove it or cover it up. Her father, Ajikumar, told her that he could not do that, but promised that he would speak to the bank manager about it. The next day, she did not wait for her parents to come back from the bank. Abhirami died by suicide in a room of the house on September 21, Tuesday. The draconian Sarfaesi Act is once again believed to have played the villain in the story.

The Sarfaesi Act – Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act – gives banks and other financial institutes the right to recover pending loans from defaulters without the help of courts. There have been many protests against the Act, which has been used to take away properties of people, often with unfair procedures.

Ajikumar had taken a loan of Rs 10 lakh to build a house in Sooranad of Kollam, while he was working abroad. But during the pandemic, he lost his job and came back to Kerala, finding it hard to repay the monthly instalments at the bank. He told the media that he had requested the bank to give him some time to repay the loan.

Ajikumar spoke about the bank notice that was stuck to the house at a time the family was away. "My daughter had asked me to remove it, but I said we did not have the right to do that as it was put there by the bank. I told her I would talk to the bank manager. The next day, my wife and I went to the bank, but I had no idea that I would come home to this... There was a crowd at my house. I looked for my daughter everywhere, but I could not find her. People build homes for their daughters to live in, but in my case, the house became a place for her to die," he said, breaking down.

Watch: Abhirami's parents talk

Courtesy - Asianet News

The loan was taken from the Patharam branch of the Kerala State Cooperative Bank. The bank chairman Gopi Kottamurikkal said that the officials were only following procedure and taking the next step of recovering a pending loan. There was nothing personal against the family, he said. Meanwhile, the police have registered a case of unnatural death.

Minister of Cooperation, VN Vasavan, said that the state government was against the Sarfaesi Act, but the Kerala Bank fell under the control of the Reserve Bank of India and had to follow the rules set by them. "We have requested the union government to do away with the Act," he said. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier said that he would try to get cooperative banks exempted from the Sarfaesi Act, but that has not yet materialised. The Hindu reported that the Leader of the Opposition in Kerala, VD Satheesan, has written to the Chief Minister, urging him to stop banks from embarrassing defaulters to recover house loans.

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organizations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584


Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222


Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.


State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

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