North-East Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Order Against Punjab National Bank for Deficiency in Service

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Case Summary

  • Sarfraz Ali (“Complainant”) deposited Rs. 40,000/- in a cash deposit machine at a Punjab National Bank (“PNB”) branch on October 24, 2018.
  • The Complainant did not receive any transaction slip or receipt confirming the deposit.
  • The Complainant immediately informed PNB officials, but they assured him that the deposited amount would be reflected in his account within 24 hours.
  • However, the money was not credited to the Complainant’s account within the stipulated timeframe. The Complainant visited PNB again the next day, but the PNB officials refused to assist him and claimed that there was an excess amount of approximately Rs. 38,000/- in the machine.
  • The Complainant reported the matter to the police on October 31, 2018, but the police only lodged an FIR on November 20, 2018.
  • The Complainant also wrote a letter to the Reserve Bank of India on November 1, 2018, but received no response.
  • The Complainant repeatedly visited the police station and PNB’s office, but he received false assurances from the officials.
  • Consequently, the Complainant filed a consumer case in the North-East Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (“District Commission”) on November 28, 2018.

PNB’s Contention

  • PNB contended that the Complainant was negligent in operating the cash deposit machine and that no bank staff instructed him to use the machine.
  • PNB argued that, based on CCTV footage and call logs, it is evident that the case involves miscreants who manipulated the Complainant into believing that the cash had been accepted by the machine and then absconded with the money.

District Commission’s Order

  • The District Commission rejected PNB’s contention that miscreants were involved in manipulating the complainant into believing that the cash had been accepted by the machine.
  • The District Commission referred to the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in Rishab Kumar Sogani vs. State Bank Of India where the NCDRC established the principle that any security lapse within a bank’s premises amounts to a deficiency in service, particularly when it leads to the loss of a customer’s money within the bank premises.
  • Consequently, the District Commission ruled in favour of the Complainant and directed PNB to pay the Complainant the sum of Rs. 40,000/-, along with interest at a rate of 6% per annum from the date of the incident until the amount is recovered.
  • PNB was also ordered to pay Rs. 30,000/- towards compensation and litigation costs, along with interest at a rate of 6% per annum from the date of the order until the amount is recovered.

Conclusion

  • The District Commission’s order in this case is a significant reminder to banks of their duty of care to customers, particularly in ensuring the safety of their money within the bank premises. The order also highlights the importance of consumer courts in protecting the rights of consumers and delivering justice in a timely manner.
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