1(a). Alleging deficiency of service by the Opposite Party-Bank (hereafter OP-Bank), their Customer namely the Complainant has filed this Complaint on 10.12.2008 under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeking certain reliefs which according to the Complainant, are appropriate.
(b) The Complaint in brief is as hereunder: Originally a Credit-Card was issued to the Complainant by Tata Finance Limited. That Credit-Card is styled as Tata Amex Credit-Card. It bears No.37704010996759. The OP-Bank acquired the portfolio of that Card in business and the Complainant was accordingly answerable to the OP-Bank. Infact, it was agreed that the Complainant had to pay Rs.9,000/- in full and final settlement of the dues under that Card to the OP-Bank and accordingly, it was paid as long back 30.08.2005. However, to the surprise of the Complainant, he received a notice from the OP-Bank dt.12.4.2008 stating that certain amount is still due from the Complainant in respect of that Credit-Card and called upon the Complainant to clear the same. Infact, the Complainant had received a receipt from the OP-Bank for having paid a sum of Rs.9,000/- in full and final settlement. It is revealed that the said letter does not find the date as such. Even then, the letter dt.30.08.2005 issued to the Complainant by the OP-Bank itself confirms the settlement of the dues to the OP-Bank touching that Credit-Card fully and finally. It is mentioned in that letter dt.30.08.2005 that it was a Confidential Letter. Inspite of the admission in that letter, the OP-Bank have chosen to cause such a notice. Added to that, the goons of the OP-Bank have started causing criminal intimidation to the Complainant if the alleged amount due is not cleared. The Complainant explained everything telephonically, but it did not give any positive relief. Then, he had to write to the OP-Bank in detail regarding the same and the OP-Bank was not prepared to accept that notice. The Complainant had chosen to a cause notice even thereafter also to the OP-Bank calling upon them to issue No Due Certificate to him since the payment was made long back fully and finally. The OP-Bank did not respond favourably. That has annoyed the Complainant. In the circumstances, this Complaint is necessitated to give a direction to the OP-Bank to issue No Due Certificate to the Complainant in respect of that Credit Card Account NO.3770-0411-0996-759 and also to compensate him in a sum of Rs.50,000/- for the mental agony and harassment along with the cost of this litigation.
2. Though in the beginning, the OP-Bank did not make available their Version. Subsequently, after the evidence of the Complainant is produced, they have chosen to seek the leave of the Forum to permit them to produce their Version and evidence. Accordingly, the permission was granted and the Version and also the evidence in the form of affidavit were made available. The defence of the OP-Bank in brief is as hereunder: This Complaint is neither maintainable at law, nor on facts of the case. This Complaint is a misconceived one. The Complainant has twisted the facts to suit his convenience. This Complaint is based on presumptions and conjectures. The Complainant has failed to make out a case. Without prejudice, it is contended that the Complainant had availed previously a Credit-Card from Tata Amex and that Company was taken over by the OP-Bank and the said Account of the Complainant was in operation. Since there was no reflection in the System regarding the payment made by the Complainant and since it was noticed subsequently, the OP-Bank through their letter dt.12.4.2008, called upon the Complainant to make that payment so that they could give the NO Due Certificate to the Complainant. The Complainant could have averted this litigation. The OP-Bank is ready and willing to give the No Objection Certificate to the Complainant. In the circumstances, this Complaint has to be dismissed with cost of the OP-Bank.
3. By way of evidence, the Complainant has produced his affidavit in the first instance on 28.1.2009 along with 4 documents. After the production of the Version of the OP-Bank, the Complainant has made available his additional affidavit on 21.2.2009. For the OP-Bank, their Manager-Legal has made available his affidavit on 12.2.2009. At the end, this Forum heard on merits. 4. In the circumstances, the following points do arise for our consideration and decision in this Proceeding and they are:
(i) Whether the OP-Bank remained deficient in rendering services to the Complainant in respect of the Credit-Card referred to in the Complaint?
(ii) Whether the Complainant is entitled for any relief against the OP-Bank in this proceeding?
(iii) What Order?
5. Our Findings to these points are as hereunder:
iii) As shown in the operative portion of the Order here below. 6. We shall substantiate our findings on the following:
R E A S O N S
POINT NO.1 (a): The OP-Bank is not made available any documentary evidence as such. However, the Complainant has chosen to produce certain documents. The first document so made available is styled as Payment Receipt. It is the one issued by the OP-Bank. It is the Customer Copy. It stands in the name of the Complainant. It refers to the Credit-Card Account mentioned in the Complaint. Significantly, it does not contain the date of issuance of that receipt or the date of receipt of the amount mentioned therein. It is for a sum of Rs.9,000/-. Even if it is presumed that this document does not take us in the proper direction, the 2nd document so made available is a very material document. Admittedly, it is the one issued by the OP-Bank to the Complainant on 30.8.2005. It refers to the Credit Card Account Number reflected in the Complaint. In that letter, there is a specific recital by way of confirmation by the OP-Bank regarding the receipt of Rs.9,000/- from the Complainant by way of full and final settlement. Significantly, it refers to Receipt No.1122889. However, that receipt or a copy of the same is not made available in evidence in this case. It is not the Document No.1 referred to above since that receipt bears a different number as 1122780. Wherefore, from the above letter dt.30.8.2005 the genuineness of which is not questioned by the OP-Bank, it is reasonable to opine that the OP-Bank has received a sum of Rs.9,000/- from the Complainant on 30.8.2005 in respect of Credit-Card in question.
(b) When that is the position, if the things remained otherwise, it was for the OP-Bank to take appropriate steps. Strangely, the OP-Bank has not corresponded with the Complainant in any manner regarding the same and on the other hand, according to the Complainant, for the first time they have come up with the demand through the letter dt.12.4.2008 stating that he is due a certain amount in respect of that Credit-Card Account and they are entitled to recover the same from him. Infact, a sum of Rs.10,607.87 has been so claimed by the OP-Bank from the Complainant as per that letter dt.12.4.2008. If really any amount was due from the Complainant touching that Credit-Card, there could not have been such an inordinate delay of about 3 years in contending that the Complainant is still due certain amount to the OP-Bank. After sleeping over their right if any, now the OP-Bank have woke up and have chosen to make such a demand as per that letter dt.12.4.2008. Strangely at this point of time, a contention is taken by the OP-Bank that the alleged payment by the Complainant is not reflected in their System. If that was really true, they could have made available the Statement of Accounts touching that Credit-Card which they are legally obliged to provide to the Customer-Complainant every month and if there was no payment on 30.8.2005 in a sum of Rs.9,000/- to the OP-Bank, certainly that could have been reflected in that Statement for the subsequent month. Very strangely and for the reasons best known to the OP-Bank, they have not made available such a documentary evidence here. It appears, the Complainant has done what best can be done by him in a situation like this. Though we find an undated receipt which we have referred to above, we also find a Confirmation Letter having a specific date to the effect that the payment of Rs.9,000/- in full and final settlement of the claim has been confirmed and that letter is dt.30.8.2005.
(c) Further, instead of driving the Complainant to this litigation, the OP-Bank could have properly responded to the letters addressed by the Complainant to them from time to time. The Complainant has made available the copies of the letters and also the documentary proof for having sent them through registered post and also through certificate of posting. In the circumstances, there is every reason to opine that those letters have been served on the OP-Bank and if they were honest in their approach, they could have certainly responded to those letters at the earliest instead of imposing this litigation on the Complainant.
(d) That apart, it is clear from the defence of the OP-Bank that they are not prepared to reveal the truth of the matter to this Forum and that on the other hand, they have chosen to remain dubious. As stated supra, in their Version itself, among other things the OP-Bank have clearly contended that they are ready to give No Objection Certificate to the Complainant. Alas ! they have shown their readiness only in their Version and never acted upon in that regard even after the Complainant filing this Complaint against them. The Complainant wants a No Due Certificate and not any No Objection Certificate. As far as that Certificate is concerned, the OP-Bank has blissfully remained silent.
(e) Nodoubt, apart from the above, the Complainant has also contended in the Complaint and also in his evidence in the form of affidavit and additional affidavit that the OP-Bank has been indulged in extra judicial remedies to recover the alleged arrears from the Complainant touching that Credit-Card. It is the very definite case of the Complainant that after that full and final settlement, he did not make use of that Credit-Card at any point of time. Where is the evidence on record that after that payment, the Complainant had transacted on the strength of that Credit-Card all these years? Wherefore, the OP-Bank cannot take recourse to extra legal remedies. Nodoubt, there is no clinching evidence by the Complainant regarding the above high-handed act of the so called goons of the OP-Bank. Therefore, we are not inclined to give a direction touching that aspect of the matter. However, it is relevant to observe that if that allegation is true, the OP-Bank has to put an end to it without loss of time not only in their own interest, but also in the interest of their Customers. Even then, the conduct of the OP-Bank in not issuing the No Due Certificate to the Complainant would certainly amount to deficiency of service within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Accordingly, this point is answered.
7. POINT NO.2: It is needless to say that any such demand would certainly cause mental harassment and physical discomfort to the Complainant-Customer. Therefore, that need be taken into consideration in a situation like this. Especially it is the very case of the Complainant that he was not due to pay anything regarding that Credit-Card. For that matter, at the course of arguments, the learned counsel representing the Complainant-Card Holder has submitted that the concerned Card has been diagonally cut and destroyed no sooner that payment in full is made and that it was a surprise for him to receive that letter dt.12.4.2004 after lapse of about 3 years. That being the position, a reasonable compensation need be provided to the Complainant to secure the ends of justice. Further what we feel is, the OP-Bank could have certainly avoided this litigation instead of taking a dubious stand in this proceeding. Therefore, it is also proper on our part to award a reasonable amount to the Complainant by way of cost of litigation. Having regard to the relevant aspects, we fix compensation payable in a sum of Rs.5,000/- and the cost of the litigation in a sum of Rs.1,000/-. Accordingly, this point is answered. 8. POINT NO.3: In the result, we proceed to pass the following:
O R D E R
Since the OP-Bank have remained deficient in rendering services to the Complainant as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and since the Complainant has been put to agony, sufferance and loss on account of the same, this Forum directs the OP-Bank not only to issue NO DUE CERTIFICATE to the Complainant in respect of the Credit-Card referred to in the Complaint, but also to pay a sum of Rs.5,000/- (Rupees five thousand) to the Complainant by way of compensation for the agony, sufferance and loss and another sum of Rs.1,000/- (Rupees one thousand) by way of litigation expenses within 30 days from this date and report compliance positively.