Court held Punjab National Bank liable for ATM Fraud, Read full case

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The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-I, North Delhi bench, consisting of Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar (President), Ashwani Kumar Mehta (Member), and Harpreet Kaur Charya (Member), recently held Punjab National Bank (PNB) liable for deficiency in services due to its failure to conduct a proper inquiry into unauthorized transactions. The bank was also found to have not reversed the full amount of the unauthorized transactions. As a result, the bench directed PNB to pay the remaining amount of Rs. 10,000 to the complainant, along with a compensation of Rs. 25,000 and a cost of Rs. 10,000 for attempting to misguide the commission.

Background of the Case

In 2004, Mr. Vinod Kumar, the complainant, opened a savings bank account with Punjab National Bank’s Shastri Nagar Branch in Delhi. His monthly salary was regularly deposited into this account, and he was issued an ATM cum Debit Card. The complainant never shared his ATM card with anyone. However, on July 5, 2013, while posted in Patiala, Punjab, he discovered eight unauthorized transactions totaling Rs. 80,000 through his ATM. Despite notifying the bank and the police, only Rs. 30,000 was credited back into his account.

Despite multiple attempts and communications with the bank officials, the remaining Rs. 50,000 was not promptly reversed. Eventually, an additional Rs. 20,000 was credited to the complainant’s account, but the full amount was not received. Feeling aggrieved, the complainant filed a consumer complaint in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-I, North Delhi.

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PNB’s Defense and Commission’s Decision

PNB argued that the complainant’s ATM cum Debit Card was always in his possession and that the alleged transactions occurred through Point of Sale Purchase (POSP). The bank claimed that such transactions require the confidential password of the ATM card, which was with the complainant. PNB also contended that the complainant subscribed to SMS Alert services, and alerts were sent during the disputed period, indicating his awareness and consent to the transactions. Additionally, PNB proposed initiating criminal proceedings against the complainant, alleging that he filed a false affidavit.

However, the District Commission referred to the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regarding “Consumer Protection- Limiting Liability of Customers in Unauthorized Electronic Banking Transactions.” These guidelines place the burden of proving customer liability in cases of unauthorized electronic banking transactions on the bank. The District Commission held that PNB failed to conduct a proper inquiry into the unauthorized transactions and did not provide a suitable reply to the complainant. The absence of a filed report or shared information regarding the inquiry led the District Commission to conclude that the bank was responsible for compensating the complainant.

Commission’s Ruling and Directions

The District Commission held PNB liable for deficiency in services for not completely reversing the amount of all eight unauthorized transactions, with Rs. 10,000 from one transaction remaining unreversed. As a result, the commission directed PNB to pay Rs. 10,000 jointly and severally to the complainant within thirty (30) days from the date of receiving the order. Additionally, PNB was directed to compensate the complainant with Rs. 25,000 for the mental pain, agony, and harassment endured. The commission also imposed a cost of Rs. 10,000 on PNB for attempting to misguide the commission. Out of this cost, Rs. 5,000 was to be paid to the complainant, while the remaining Rs. 5,000 was to be deposited in the State Consumer Welfare Fund.

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Comments

4 COMMENTS

  1. Always burden of proof remains mandatory with complainaint and in this case the complainant succeded to submit plea in his favour, whereas the Bank couldn’t satisfy to the jury.

    Therefore, Bank has lost the case

  2. Rather silly decision of the court.When ATM card was with the customer how can some else withdraw the money. He must have shared some confidential information. In case every person starts approaching the court for the same reason, banks would be in really difficulty. How can you prove all transactions were valid of not there are millions of them happening every day

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