For DHFL depositors, it's a lonely battle


"The money we got after selling our farm in Wardha was invested in Dewan Housing Finance Limited's (DHFL) fixed deposit plan. As the funds remain locked up after DHFL went bust in October last year, our family now depends on rental income of Rs 10,000," says Sunanda (name changed) in her fifties. She prefers not to disclose her identity to avoid social embarrassment.

She is among the numerous depositors of DHFL in Wardha whose downfall also brought down Yes Bank. Even as Yes Bank depositors continue to line up to withdraw the permissible Rs 50,000, those like Sunanda and others find them still better off.

With no relaxation to even withdraw part of the deposit like in Yes Bank, Sunanda and others in a group of 200 are now waiting for April 8 when the next hearing in the DHFL case is scheduled at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Yes Bank was in trouble due to its exposure in DHFL. The total depositors in DHFL are pegged at over 77,000 having parked over Rs 6,000 crore in all. Out of these, 200 have come together and are fighting their case in the NCLT.

"There must be scores in Wardha alone, especially in the interiors. Like us, many others were also made to deposit their funds in DHFL by the same chartered accountant," says Sunanda.

"Yes Bank's depositors can withdraw at least Rs 50,000, but for those in DHFL, the entire money has been locked up since October. There are individuals in Nagpur who have invested huge amounts," says Anand Mirpuri, another depositor who runs a retail business here.

Mirpuri says he deposited funds in DHFL because it had AAA rating and continued to honour its liability towards depositors till October when the crisis began.

It was a tweet by Vinay Mittal, a retired intelligence officer living in Delhi, that he wanted to take up a legal battle for the depositors' rights that led to 200 of them coming together. They have Rs 150 crore of deposits in all, says Mittal.

"There are 77,000 depositors in all but most of them are not traceable. A large number is from interiors having parked smaller amounts up to a lakh or so. However, only 200 have formed a group so far," Mittal told TOI.

"The depositor are from entire country. In Central India, large numbers are from Chhattisgarh," he said.

A moratorium was imposed on DHFL's transactions following a High Court order, which was vacated by the Supreme Court and the matter went before the NCLT after which the restrictions continued. Following the apex court's directions, the depositors who wanted to priority in payment of their dues from DHFL assets have now gone to NCLT.

"Initially, we went to the Committee of Creditors (CoC) appointed under insolvency proceedings which did not accept the plea. Later, our group filed an invention in the NCLT and the next hearing is now due on April 8," he said.

"Our only demand is that the fixed deposit holder should be given priority when it comes to paying off DHFL's due. We also expect the government to intervene in the case as we have been fighting the battle alone," said Manjusha Asarani, another investor from Nagpur.

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