Sh.Makhan S/o Sh.Krishan Kumar, resident of Ward No.14, Water Works Road, Mansa.
A.G.M., State Bank of India, First Floor, Regional Business Office, Bhagu Road, Bathinda.
Manager, Main Branch, State Bank of India, Water Works Road Branch, Mansa.
Sh.Makhan son of Sh.Krishan Kumar, a resident of Mansa, has filed this complaint, under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short called the 'Act') against the opposite parties for award of compensation in the sum of Rs.50,000/- for mental and physical
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harassment. Briefly stated, the case of the complainant is described as under:
2. That on 5.6.2008, he opened joint account with his wife with OP No.2 and deposited a sum of Rs.1,51,000/-. They have also secured 'Multi City Cheque Facility' provided for encashment of cheques issued by them in any branch of the opposite parties.
On 26.11.2008, complainant issued cheque bearing No.000105 dated 26.11.2008 in the name of his father-in-law Sh.Pawan Kumar S/o Sh.Ram Nath, resident of Bharat Nagar, Bathinda. On presentment of the said cheque, by the drawee, the branch of the opposite parties, situated at Bathinda, refused to encash the same, despite adequate credit, in the account of the complainant, on the plea that his signatures are not scanned on computer system of the opposite parties. The father-in-law of the complainant, in whose name cheque, has been drawn, is a old person and a patient of heart ailment, who needed money for his personal needs. He also maintains account No.30397593617 in the branch of opposite parties at Bathinda. After receiving the intimation, regarding dishonoring of the cheque, the complainant approached the main branch of the opposite parties, but the officials posted therein, refused to listen to his grievance ,thereafter he sent several applications expressing his problems faced by him due to non scanning of his signatures on the computer system, but OP No.2 did not pay any heed and has not given any response, to the notice sent through registered post and FAX. Hence the complaint.
3. On being put to notice, opposite parties filed written version, resisting the complaint, by taking preliminary objections; that the complainant, is not the 'consumer' within the purview of its definition given in the Act, as such, complaint, is not maintainable; that complainant,
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has no cause of action, and locus standi, to file the complaint; that the complaint is bad for mis-joinder and non-joinder of necessary parties; that the complainant, has concealed the material facts, from the knowledge of this Forum and has not approached this Forum with clean hands, as he has suppressed the material facts touching the merits of the case; that no loss has been suffered by the complainant and drawee of the cheque has not filed the complaint for loss suffered by him, as such, he is not entitled, to payment of any compensation; as such, his complaint, being false and vexatious, is liable, to be dismissed, with costs.
On merits, factum of opening of a joint account, by the complainant and his wife, and availing of 'Multi City Cheque Facility', is not denied, but it is submitted that complainant, has operated his account several times, but he has not faced any difficulty in operation thereof. It is submitted that cheque in question, could not be cleared, for payment, for want of signatures scan of the complainant, which could not be scanned ,due to technical difficulties faced by the opposite parties. It is denied, that there is any deficiency in service, on the part of the opposite parties or that complainant, is entitled to seek compensation, as sought in the instant complaint. Rest of the allegations, made in the complaint, have been denied, and a prayer has been made, for dismissal of the same, with costs.
4. On being called upon, by this Forum, to do so, the counsel for the complainant tendered his affidavit and of Sh.Pawan Kumar and copies of documents Ext.C-1 to C-7 and closed evidence. On the other hand, learned counsel for the opposite parties tendered in evidence affidavit of Sh.Rakesh Kumar, G.M., Ext.OP-1 and closed evidence on their behalf.
5. We have heard the learned counsel, for the parties and gone through, the facts borne on record, carefully, with their kind assistance.
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6. At the outset, learned counsel for the opposite parties Sh. P.K.Singla, Advocate, has submitted that complainant, has not disclosed the name of the branch of the opposite parties, where his father-in-law, in whose favour the cheque, has been issued, has presented the same for encashment and, as per allegations made in the complaint, he has not suffered any personal loss, as such, he has no locus standi to file the complaint and person aggrieved, if any, is his father-in-law, but he is not party to the complaint, as such, complaint is liable to be dismissed with special costs.
7. On the other hand, learned counsel for the complainant Sh. Vishvpreet Garg, Advocate, has submitted that cheque, in question, has been issued, by the complainan,t which has been dishonored, by the opposite parties without any justifiable cause, as such, complainant, has locus standi and his complaint, is maintainable, although his father-in-law, may file separate complaint, for physical and mental harassment, suffered by him, against the branch concerned, at Bathinda, if he so desires.
8. We find merit in the argument advanced by the learned counsel for the complainant, because cheque in question, issued by him has not been honored, by the opposite parties for want of loading of signatures scan on their computer network due to technical difficulties. In the given circumstances, we are unable to accept the plea of the counsel for the opposite parties, that complainant is not the person aggrieved or that he has no locus standi, to file the complaint. The remedy open to his father-in-law, who operates distinct account with the branch of the opposite parties at Bathinda, is independent. If he is aggrieved due to dishonoring of the cheque on any other ground by the opposite parties, he may file separate complaint against his bankers. Since the facility of 'Multi City Cheque
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Facility', has been secured by the complainant and his wife and their reputation, has gone down in the eyes of the drawee, therefore, complaint filed by the complainant, against his bankers, for dishonoring the cheque, on being presented, by the drawee, is maintainable.
9. Learned counsel for the opposite parties, has further submitted that complainant, as per his own version projected in the complaint, has issued cheque in the sum of Rs.70,000/-, but as per the Banking Law and Regulations, payment of amount above Rs.50,000/-, can be made to the drawee through Account Payee Cheque, but complainant, has not produced on record the counter foil of Pay-in-Slip, through which cheque in question ,was presented with any branch of the opposite parties, at Bathinda, for deposit of the same in his account.
Learned counsel has reiterated, that no personal loss to the complainant, has been caused and he has failed to approach the OP No.2 and to inform him about dishonoring of the cheque, so that remedial steps could be taken in time, as such, he cannot claim benefit of its own omission and be allowed to shift the liability upon the opposite parties, for dishonoring of the cheque. Learned counsel, has drawn our attention to Statement of Accounts of the complainant, containing entry regarding transfer of a sum of Rs.50,000/-, by him, on 28.11.2008 in Fixed Deposit Account and has argued, that complainant has served notices upon the opposite parties despite knowledge that amount in his account, is not sufficient for honoring the cheque, as such, inference is that he has fabricated the evidence with malafide intention, to secure wrongful gain and his complaint deserves to be dismissed with compensatory costs.
10. At the stage, learned counsel for the complainant, has submitted that, opposite parties in their written version, has admitted the
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dishonoring of the cheque, as such, they cannot be allowed to wriggle out of the said admission or due to non impleading of the the branch of the opposite parties situated at Bathinda, where cheque was presented, by the drawee. Learned counsel further argued, that despite issuance of reminders by the complainant for scanning of his signatures, to the opposite parties, they have failed, to take any remedial action for scanning of his signatures, as such, there is deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties and the complainant, is entitled to claim compensation from them.
11. The argument advanced by the learned counsel or the complainant is not devoid of merits, because in the written version, the opposite parties have categorically admitted, that cheque in question, on presentation by the drawee, has not been encashed for want of scanning of signatures of the drawer on computer network, due to technical problems. Yhey have not attributed any lapse, on the part of the account holder, because of which their signatures could not be scanned on their computer network or to facilitate the other branches to honour the cheques issued by them under Multi City Cheque Facility.
It is well settled that admitted facts need no formal proof and that admission is the best evidence, which can be relied upon by the opponent, until it is successfully withdrawn or proved to be erroneous. It is not the case of the opposite parties, that above admission has been made by them out of inadvertence. It was the duty of the OP No.2 to scan the signatures of the account holders immediately after they secured the facility. The reliefs to the complainant cannot be denied, even if, he has not conveyed any intimation to the opposite parties, for dishonoring of the cheque on being presented by his father-in-law for encashment.
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12. As per entries made in the Statement of Accounts issued by the opposite parties, Ext.C-2, he has withdrawn a sum of Rs.50,000/- on 28.11.2008. He has issued the cheque on 26.11.2008 after deposit of Rs.70,000/- in his account on even date, in the name of his father-in-law. The dates mentioned in the copies of notices Ext.C-4 to C-6 suggests that they have been served upon the opposite parties subsequent to the transfer of Rs.50,000/- in his Fixed Deposit Account. These notices are dated 13.1.2009, 12.2.2009 and 26.2.2009, but in these notices, complainant has himself requested the opposite parties for scanning of his signatures and not for honoring of the cheque issued by him, but the opposite parties have not produced on record any documentary proof to show that his grievance has been redressed, although it is not their plea that facility secured by the complainant and his wife, has been withdrawn or cancelled, due to their conduct or some other reason.
13. In the light of our above discussion, we have come to the conclusion that deficiency in service on the part of the opposite parties, is clearly demonstrated, by the facts discussed above. Therefore, complaint cannot be dismissed, even if , complainant has failed to prove any financial loss, which might have been caused to him. In our opinion, dishonoring of cheque, issued by the drawer, lets him down in the eyes of the drawee, irrespective of his relationship and it also affects the reputation of the bankers in the eyes of the general public. Therefore, the opposite parties have no option, but to adequately compensate the complainant, as per the nature of deficiency in service and circumstances of the case.
14. For the aforesaid reasons, we accept the complaint with a direction to the opposite parties, to pay a sum of Rs.2,000/-, on account of compensation, to the complainant. Since the complainant has not sought
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any payment, on account of costs of litigation, therefore, parties are left to bear their own costs. The compliance of this order be made within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the copy of the order.