Kochi–A petition questioning the merger of State Bank of Travancore (SBT) with State Bank of India (SBI) was admitted in the Kerala High Court here on Tuesday.

The public interest petition was filed by a forum of various political parties, trade unions, bank beneficiary groups, customers, shareholders, mass organisations, trade and industry bodies and bank employees. Their aim is to stop the SBT’s merger with SBI and to ensure that the SBT as an entity offers its services to the public at large in Kerala.

A division bench of the high court has directed that notices be served to the Centre, SBI, RBI and SBT.

The State Bank of Travancore has about 14,000 employees on its rolls. Since its inception, the institution has been identified as Kerala’s own bank .

Following the decision of the proposed merger with SBI, the SBT Employees’ Union has been opposing it tooth and nail, saying customers of the Kerala bank will suffer.

The employees’ union has found support in the ruling Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led opposition, with all senior leaders writing to the Centre to desist from the move.

The forum’s chairman is senior CPI leader and former Thiruvananthapuram Lok sabha member Paniyan Ravindran.

SBI currently has 79.09 percent shareholding in SBT, with the Kerala government’s stake standing at 0.89 percent.

At the end of the previous fiscal, the total business of SBT stood at Rs 1,68,123 crore which comprises total deposits of Rs 1,01,119 crore and advances of Rs 67,004 crore.