The Maharashtra Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (state consumer court) has dismissed an appeal filed by Standard Chartered Bank against the Pune District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum’s order directing the bank to pay Rs 22,068 to its customer Anil Supanekar who was charged for purchases made after he lost his credit card. The bank has also been directed to re-issue him a card with Rs 2 lakh credit limit.
The disputed credit card transaction had taken place after poject consultant Supnekar misplaced his credit card in October 2004. He noticed at least seven disputed entries in the bank statement that he received in November. The bank reduced his credit limit from Rs 2 lakh to Rs one lakh and later withdrew the credit facility.
When he contacted the bank, he was asked to fill up the disputes declaration form. “The bank officials had said they would not charge interest unless the dispute is resolved. However, later the bank asked me to pay Rs 22,068 with interest on the disputed amount of Rs 14,889. I even started getting late night calls from their recovery agents forcing me to pay the amount,” he said. Unable to deal with pressure, Supnekar paid this amount on July 16, 2005 and approached the Pune district consumer court.
“Our argument was that it is bank’s responsibility to verify signature on the credit card slip with the specimen signature. When the card was misused and signed by a third person, his signature did not match the specimen signature. Had the bank officials verified it, they would have easily noticed the discrepancy in the the signatures,” said advocate D G Sant, counsel for Supnekar.
Supnekar said the signatures on the six charge slips did not match with the specimen signature. The district court passed an order on July 24, 2009 stating, ‘On the bare perusal of the same (charge slips) without stepping into the shoes of the expert (handwriting expert), we can conclude that the complainant is not author of those signatures. A failure to compare the signature of the complainant on the charge slip with that of the signatures maintained by the bank would amount to deficiency in service.’
The court ordered the bank to pay back Rs 22,068 to Supnekar and reinstate the credit car facility with full credit limit of Rs 2 lakh within two months. After Standard Chartered Bank filed an appeal in the state forum