Court rules against Gordhan's request for relief in Gupta bank matter

Johannesburg - A court has ruled that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan's application seeking declaratory relief from having to intervene with the banks has been dismissed. 

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba read out the order at the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

The application was dismissed, with costs to be carried by the Minister of Finance, Ledwaba said. 

The application for extended relief sought by Standard Bank was also dismissed in favour of Oakbay group. ABSA, FNB, Nedbank, the governor and the registrar of the Reserve Bank and the director of the Financial Intelligence Centre will also have to bear their own costs. 

Gordhan lodged the application in October last year. The matter was heard in March. Oakbay had approached the minister to intervene when four major banks, Standard Bank, ABSA, FNB and Nedbank closed its accounts. 

Gordhan wanted the courts to rule that he could not interfere with the banks' decisions. 

READ:D-day for Gupta/Gordhan banks case: 10 things you should know

The court viewed the application by the minister as "unnecessary". "We hold the strong view that this application was clearly unnecessary in the circumstances of this case. Such circumstances do not warrant that the court exercises its discretion to grant the declaratory relief by pronouncing itself on an undisputed legal question, which has previously been confirmed in judgments.

"It is not appropriate for a member of the National Executive to draw the judiciary into the exercise of his executive functions as evidenced in this application," the judgment read. 

"To grant the minister the declaratory relief would allow the judiciary to stray into the exercise of executive functions where the circumstances do not warrant this involvement."

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos‏ tweeted: “So court declined to rule on Gordhan application about Guptas interfering because what he asked it to do is already settled law.” 

This is a developing story.

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