New Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum bench presided by C K Chaturvedi asked the bank to pay Rs 37,863, including compensation for harassment, to Delhi resident Tarun Kumar Dutta, who was an account holder of the bank and whose EMI it had paid using the funds of another account holder.
The bank had paid Dutta's EMI, despite insufficient funds in his account, from LIC's account and asked him to repay the money with interest after two years when he approached it to close his account, the forum noted.
"Careful perusal of pleadings reveal that Opposite Party 1 (bank) had made an error in honouring the cheque in 2008 despite lack of funds in complainant's account....Opposite Party (OP) bank did not show its prudence in rectifying this error and verifying with complainant but continued in a purely mechanical manner.
"It was only in December 2010, when complainant approached the OP bank for closure of accounts, OP made the complainant pay this particular cheque allegedly encashed in 2008 along with interest," the forum, also comprising its members S R Chaudhary and Ritu Garodia, said.
Dutta had told the forum that he was paying EMI of Rs 25,483 to a company via post dated cheques drawn on bank.
On October 31, 2008, the company deposited the cheque with the bank which was allegedly dishonoured, he said.
He, however, claimed he knew on that date his account did not have sufficient funds and he paid by cash the particular installment.
Dutta said that on December 15, 2010, he went to the bank to close his account and came to know that payment of cheque of Rs 25,483 was due, which he paid with interest and closed the account.
Later on, Dutta discovered that the cheque was due on October 31, 2008 and the bank had deducted the payment on closure of account in December 2010.
The bank, which admitted error on its part, however, said that despite insufficient funds in Dutta's account, money was still credited to the company from LIC's account so the complainant did not undergo any suffering.
The forum, in its order, asked the bank as to why the amount for the cheque was not debited from Dutta's account in 2008 itself but was imposed on him along with interest in 2010 at the time of closure of account.
"OP has not adduced any reasonable explanation to this query. For this internal mismanagement of OP bank, the account holder cannot be held responsible," it said.
The forum said that the bank also failed to show why account of LIC was debited to honour Dutta cheque.
"We...hold OP guilty of deficiency in service and direct OP to pay Rs 27,863... We also award a sum of Rs 10,000 as compensation for deficiency, harassment, mental agony, inconveniences and litigation expenses," the forum said.