NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
First Appeal No. 27 of 2007
order dated 27.11.2006 in C No. 121 of 2006 of the State Commission,
CMD, Bank of
Dr. George John
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE M. B. SHAH PRESIDENT
HONBLE MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO MEMBER
HONBLE MR. ANUPAM DASGUPTA MEMBER
For the Appellant Ms. Praveena Gautam, Advocate
For the Respondent IN PERSON
Heard the learned Counsel for the appellant as well as the respondent in person.
The case illustrates how aptly the observations made
. An ordinary citizen or a common man is hardly equipped to match the might of the State or its instrumentalities. That is provided by the rule of law. It acts as a check on arbitrary and capricious exercise of power. .A public functionary if he acts maliciously or oppressively and the exercise of power results in harassment and agony then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse. ..Crime and corruption thrive and prosper in the society due to lack of public resistance. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it. Therefore the award of compensation for harassment by public authorities not only compensates the individual, satisfies him personally but helps in curing social evil. It may result in improving the work culture and help in changing the outlook .
The Court further observed :
It is unfortunate that matters which require immediate attention linger on and the man in the street is made to run from one end to other with no result. The culture of window clearance appears to be totally dead. Even in ordinary matters a common man who has neither the political backing nor the financial strength to match the inaction in public oriented departments gets frustrated and it erodes the credibility in the system ...
the present case, the complainant, who has been serving at Dehradun, had a
Savings Bank Account at the Ballupur Branch of the Bank of Baroda in Dehradun. For the marriage ceremony of his sister, he wanted
to transfer the amount standing at his credit in his account at the Dehradun
Branch to Chengannur Branch, District Alappuzha, Kerala.
He filed an application for transfer on
It is the contention of the complainant that he and
the members of his family, namely, father and brother required that amount for
the performance of the marriage of his sister. Pre-marriage ceremony
(counselling) was conducted on
Hence, the complainant moved the Banking Ombudsman
for getting relief. That complaint was disposed of by order dated 27th
November, 2002, the Banking Ombudsman stated that the account was opened at
Chengannur Branch on 30th March, 2001 as evidenced by the ledger
extract produced by the Bank and the complainant did not produce any
documentary evidence in support of his contention that the amount in his
account was not accessible during the period between 30th March 2001
to 15th May, 2001. The order was passed on the basis of the letters
Hence, the complainant filed O.P. No. A - 142 of 2002
before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Alappuzha, Kerala. In the said
complaint, the complainant mentioned that he was not allowed to operate the
account and not permitted to withdraw the amount to meet the expenses for the
marriage ceremony of his sister. He claimed compensation for a sum of Rs. 15
lakh. The District Forum dismissed the complaint by holding that it had no
pecuniary jurisdiction. Then the complainant approached the State Commission,
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala by filing OP No. 94 of
2002. That complaint was repeatedly adjourned by the State Commission on one
ground or the other. The complainant was required to go from Dehradun to
Thiruvananthapuram for number of times. The complaint was finally dismissed on
Against that order, the complainant preferred FA No.
475 of 2004 before this Commission. This Commission by an order dated
That complaint, numbered as Complaint Case No. 121 of
2006, was allowed by the State Commission,
Against that order, this appeal is filed.
In this case, we agree with the findings recorded by the State Commission that it is difficult to imagine the humiliation, mental agony and suffering of such a complainant caused by the cavalier, callous attitude of the service provider for whatever reasons.
Undisputedly, the complainant was staying at Dehradun
and had his bank account at Dehradun. To facilitate the withdrawal of the money
in his account for the purpose of marriage ceremony of his sister, the account
was transferred from Dehradun to Chengannur Branch. In that set of
circumstances, it is difficult to imagine that though the account was
transferred and was made operational on
However, the learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that there was nothing on record to establish that the complainant or his brother approached the Chengannur Branch for withdrawal of the amount. This contention is without any substance because consumers (account holders in Banks) do not maintain record of visits to the Banks for withdrawal of their amounts. It is difficult to believe that the person who transferred the money for the marriage ceremony of his sister would not approach the Bank for its withdrawal; otherwise there was no necessity of the transfer.
Complainant has also produced on record a letter
Reference: Your SB Account No. 7176.
Thank you very much for your letter dated 20.03.2001 requesting for opening your New SB Account with our Branch with the proceeds of the account transferred from our Ballupur Chowk Branch, Dehradun. The amount of Rs.5,51,089/- was received at our branch on 30.03.2001 and as instructed by you, we have opened your SB Account No. 7176 with us jointly with Dr (Mrs) Jameela G. John and Mr. V. G. George and the relative pass book and cheque book was handed over to Dr. G. Samuel as instructed in your above letter.
We have now received another letter dated 17.05.2001 signed by all joint depositors instructing us to place the above sum in Term Deposit for -181 - days with effect from the date of receipt of above fund at our branch.
In this regard we express our inability to execute your above instruction, as it violates our Banks instructions in this regard, as well as the RBI guidelines on the subject.
However, we shall be glad to open your Fixed Deposit Accounts as instructed in your letter dated 17.05.2001 with effect from 17.05.2001. Please advise us.
Regarding authorizing your brother Dr. G. Samuel to all Banking operations in your SB Account No. 7176 we request you call on us with joint account holders to execute a Mandate in favour of Dr. G. Samuel in our presence alongwith the photograph of Dr. G. Samuel.
Thanking you and assuring you of our Best services.
Senior Branch Manager
Considering this letter, it is apparent that the complainant was not permitted to operate the account upto 17.05.2001. This is an apparent deficiency in service on the part of the appellant Bank.
In the result, in our opinion, the punitive damages, as provided under section 14 (1) (d) and awarded by the State Commission, does not call for any interference. This is in conformity with the decision in the case of Lucknow Development Authority (Supra) .
The respondent, who is appearing in person, states that the amount which has been awarded by the State Commission would be used for charity so that the marriage ceremonies of daughters/sisters similarly placed can be performed properly.
In the result, the appeal is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.
[ M. B. Shah, J ]
[ Rajyalakshmi Rao ]
[ Anupam Dasgupta ]