Banks to pay for de­lay in clos­ing of Hous­ing Loan Ac­count

Accommodation Times - - Front Page -

Adis­trict con­sumer fo­rum re­cently brought to book a bank that made a cou­ple run from pil­lar to post af­ter they had ex­pressed their will­ing­ness to close their hous­ing loan ac­count be­fore ma­tu­rity. Stat­ing that the com­plainants ex­pe­ri­enced fi­nan­cial losses due to an un­rea­son­able and harsh at­ti­tude and lack of sen­si­tiv­ity by the bank, the fo­rum ob­served, “One can un­der­stand men­tal agony, which mid­dle-class peo­ple like the com­plainants, might have un­der­gone due to the loss of a cheque of Rs 3 lakh. The bank should have ap­pre­ci­ated this by waiv­ing fore­clo­sure charges as well as the in­ter­est from Jan­uary 2007 on­wards…” Find­ing the bank guilty of de­fi­ciency of ser­vice, the fo­rum or­dered them to pay the com­plainants Rs 50,000 as com­pen­sa­tion and Rs 5,000 to­wards the cost of lit­i­ga­tion. In April 2004, the Thane-based com­plainants, Ashik and Vaishali Ghag, had taken a hous­ing loan from ICICI Bank Ltd. On Novem­ber 22, 2006, the out­stand­ing amount due against the loan stood at Rs 3.2 lakh, which the Ghags de­cided to pay off. Ashik filed an ap­pli­ca­tion with Em­ploy­ees’ Prov­i­dent Fund Or­ga­ni­za­tion (EPFO) to with­draw Rs 3 lakh for re­pay­ment of the loan. The re­main­ing amount was to be paid from a fixed de­posit in another bank. On Jan­uary 11, 2007, EPFO is­sued a cheque for Rs 3 lakh and send it to ICICI. How­ever, when the Ghags went to ICICI to de­posit the bal­ance, the bank in­formed them that it had not re­ceived the cheque sent by EPFO. Af­ter re­peated cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the Ghags and the bank, it was found that the cheque had been mis­placed. Ashik then ex­e­cuted an indemnity bond at the in­stance of the of­fi­cers of the bank. On July 17, 2007, EPFO sent a fresh cheque to the bank. How­ever, EPFO in­formed Ashik that the cheque was re­turned un­de­liv­ered. The Ghags later learnt that the cheque could not be de­liv­ered as the bank’s ad­dress had changed. On Au­gust 8, 2007, a third cheque was is­sued. How­ever, ow­ing to the de­lay in re­pay­ment of the dues and clos­ing of the ac­count, the bank levied fore­clo­sure charges de­spite a re­quest by the Ghags. The Ghags then filed a com­plaint with the Mum­bai Sub­ur­ban Dis­trict Con­sumer Dis­putes Re­dres­sal Fo­rum on Septem­ber 4, 2008. The bank claimed that EPFO had not men­tioned names of the com­plainants or the loan ac­count num­ber on the cheque and it was not marked to any par­tic­u­lar of­fi­cer of the bank. Hence, the cheque kept go­ing from one depart­ment to another, and in the process, got mis­placed. With re­gards to the change of ad­dress, the bank held that the Ghags did not in­form EPFO about the new ad­dress. Re­fut­ing the bank’s claim, the fo­rum, presided over by J L Desh­pande and com­pris­ing mem­bers D S Bind­nurkar and V G Joshi, said the cover let­ter dated Jan­uary 1, 2007, by EPFO clearly men­tioned the names of the com­plainants and their ac­count num­ber. The fo­rum held that there were no de­tails on the record to show that the bank had in­formed the Ghags about change of ad­dress or the shift­ing of its branch. Had the bank shown a lit­tle dili­gence and pres­ence of mind in trac­ing out the loan ac­count, the mat­ter could have been am­i­ca­bly re­solved in Jan­uary 2007, ob­served the fo­rum.

Find­ing the bank guilty of de­fi­ciency of ser­vice, the fo­rum or­dered them to pay the com­plainants Rs 50,000 as com­pen­sa­tion and Rs 5,000 to­wards the cost of lit­i­ga­tion.

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