The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has issued a significant ruling against ICICI Bank, compelling it to pay a compensation of Rs 25 lakh in a case involving the loss of original property title documents belonging to a customer.
The case was brought before the commission by a complainant named Manoj Madhusudhanan, who sought redress for what he considered a deficiency in services provided by the bank. Represented by advocate Swetank Shantanu, Mr. Madhusudhanan’s case was presided over by NCDRC’s Presiding Member, Subhash Chandra.
The crux of the complaint revolves around a housing loan transaction that took place in Bangalore in April 2016. ICICI Bank sanctioned a housing loan amounting to Rs 1.86 crore for Mr. Madhusudhanan. As part of the loan agreement, several critical property documents, including the registered sale deed and possession certificate, were entrusted to the bank as collateral. However, when Mr. Madhusudhanan requested scanned or true copies of these documents, the bank was unable to provide them.
Frustrated by this, Mr. Madhusudhanan filed a formal complaint in June 2016. In response, ICICI Bank informed him that the original documents had been lost during transit from Bangalore to the bank’s central storage facility in Hyderabad, presumably while in the hands of a courier company.
Despite Mr. Madhusudhanan’s efforts to resolve the issue, including seeking assistance from the Banking Ombudsman, the bank was directed in September 2016 to issue duplicate copies of the lost documents, publish a public notice about the loss, and compensate the complainant with a sum of Rs 25,000 for the deficiency in service.
Unsatisfied with this outcome, Mr. Madhusudhanan escalated the matter to the national consumer commission, alleging that ICICI Bank had displayed “extreme negligence” and that the copies of the documents could not replace the importance of the originals. He sought a substantial compensation of Rs 5 crore for the mental agony and losses he had endured due to this situation.
The NCDRC carefully reviewed the evidence presented before it and concluded that Mr. Madhusudhanan’s claim of seeking compensation from the bank for deficiency in service was indeed valid and legitimate. Furthermore, the commission emphasized that the issue at hand pertained to compensating the complainant for the deficiency in service and safeguarding him against any potential future losses.
Importantly, the NCDRC made it clear that ICICI Bank could not shift the blame or liability for the loss of the documents onto the courier company. The Banking Ombudsman had previously confirmed the deficiency in service, further supporting Mr. Madhusudhanan’s case.
As a result, the NCDRC issued a series of directives to ICICI Bank. The bank was instructed to bear the expenses associated with obtaining reconstructed and duly certified copies of the documents that had been submitted as collateral when the sale deed for the housing loan was registered.
Additionally, ICICI Bank was ordered to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation to Mr. Madhusudhanan for the deficiency in services he had experienced. To cover the litigation costs incurred during the course of this dispute, the bank was also directed to pay an additional sum of Rs 50,000.
In sum, this ruling by the NCDRC underscores the importance of safeguarding original documents and fulfilling responsibilities when entrusted with valuable assets by customers. It serves as a precedent for holding financial institutions accountable for their actions and ensuring that consumers are adequately compensated in cases of service deficiencies.