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It all started with Surendra Mohan Nayyar wanting to own a car. Having been Rs 1 lakh short of the amount needed to buy a Daewoo Cielo, he approached Citibank for a loan. This decision marked the onset of a nightmare that eventually cost Nayyar his savings, his car and led to 18 years of litigation.
His ordeal ended on Thursday when New Delhi District Consumer Forum asked Citibank to pay Rs 16 lakh for “serious case of unfair trade practice, cheating and misappropriation”.
The amount, Rs 6 lakh more than what Nayyar had sought, was awarded by the Forum, headed by Judge C K Chaturvedi.
It awarded the fine “considering the long period of ordeal suffered by complainant from 1995... time and money involved in litigation... the nature and gravity of deficiencies and unfair trade practices on the part of OP (opposite party) in numerous ways”.
In 1995, Nayyar had booked the car from Dawood Motors Pvt Ltd for Rs 30,000. In 1996, the car was ready for delivery on payment of Rs 5.5 lakh. Nayyar had Rs 4.5 lakh and requested Citibank for a loan of Rs 1 lakh.
Bank officials collected Nayyar’s signature on a blank agreement form and asked him to pay an advance of Rs 4.22 lakh. Nayyar paid the bank as it was the financier for the car dealer.
According to case records, the bank recorded Rs 4 lakh as the loan amount — which was actually just Rs 1 lakh.
They collected around Rs 3 lakh from Nayyar between 1996 and 1997 in 13 EMIs of Rs 22,886. Realising that he was paying much more than he had borrowed, Nayyar stopped paying the EMIs. Thereafter, the bank seized his car for recovering a “balance” of Rs 3,75,851.
The bank then filed an FIR against him on charges of theft. The FIR was followed by a recovery suit before a district judge.
Nayyar approached various dispute redressal forums and in 2006. The State Consumer Forum decreed in his favour. Citibank went in appeal to the Supreme Court which allowed the district forum to re-examine the matter.
Sources said the New Delhi District Consumer Forum allowed the complaint “in view of the treatment meted out to the innocent customer”.
The Forum imposed a fine of Rs 16 lakh on the bank for Nayyar’s ordeal.