NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL
REVISION PETITION NO. 3073 OF 2007
(From the order dated 29.05.2007 of the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh in Appeal. no. 597 of 2002)
Dr. Narinder Mohan Wadhera
Son of Shri Ram Wadhera
Resident of 189 Basant Avenue Petitioner
1. The State Bank of India
Local Head Office,
Sector 17, Chandigarh
Through its Chief General Manager Respondents
2. State Bank of India
Main Branch, Moga
Through its Branch Manager,
Court Road, Moga
HON’BLE MR. ANUPAM DASGUPTA PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioner Mr. P. N. Puri, Advocate
For the Respondent Mr. S. L. Gupta, Advocate
Pronounced on 11th November 2011
By its order dated 29.05.2007 the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh (in short, ‘the State Commission’) has allowed the appeal (no. 597 of 2007) of the respondent Bank, set aside the order dated 19.03.2002 of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Moga (in short, ‘the District Forum’) and dismissed the complaint of the complainant. Aggrieved, the complainant has come up with this revision petition.
2. I have heard Mr. P. N. Puri, Advocate on behalf of the petitioner/ complainant and Mr. S. L. Gupta, Advocate on behalf of respondent Bank and perused the records.
3. The facts of this case are undisputed and need not be repeated here. The short point involved in this petition is whether the petitioner/complainant was able to establish that his fixed deposit receipt (FDR) no. 23083 for Rs.3200/- actually remained with the Bank and was not withdrawn by him on 23.12.1966, as was contended by the Bank.
4. On behalf of the petitioner, Mr. Puri has contended that the Branch of the Bank was required to maintain the vouchers permanently and, therefore, if it claimed that the petitioner had signed a receipt voucher in 1966 at the time of withdrawing the FDR in question., it was necessary for the Bank to produce that voucher before the District Forum, but the Bank failed to do so and, therefore, an adverse inference had to be drawn against the Bank.
5. On the other hand, Mr. Gupta has vehemently argued that following the instructions circulated by the Bank in 1998, the Branch had destroyed the voucher in question because the period of retention of original vouchers as proof of payment made by the Bank was only 10 years. This was clear from the observations of the State Commission:
“As per annexure – II (Ex. R-4), the Bank Cash Scroll is to be retained for either year and the voucher register/voucher are to be retained for 10 years.”
Therefore, when the petitioner/complainant approached the District Forum in 2001, the Bank had already destroyed the voucher. The second limb of Mr. Gupta’s argument is that it was for the complainant to establish that he had not received the payment because the opposite would cast an impossible onus on any Bank. If the stand of the petitioner/complainant was to be accepted, a depositor or his legal representative could come up even after several decades and claim that certain deposit made by the said depositor decades back was still lying with the Bank and should, therefore, be now released to him with full interest.
6. On careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, I am inclined to agree with the reasoning and conclusion of the State Commission. It also stands to reason that had there been any mala fide action on the part of any employee of the respondent bank in encashing the FDR in question, such a person could have easily encashedthe complainant’s remaining three FDRs also. Further, the action of the petitioner/complainant to claim payment of the four FDRs made in 1961 after nearly 39 years without any enquiry, etc., in the long intervening period is most unusual.
7. In conclusion, therefore, I do not find any jurisdictional error, legal infirmity or material irregularity in the impugned order of the State Commission to warrant action under section 21 (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The revision petition is, therefore, dismissed, with the further observation that (as admitted before the Fora below) the Bank shall pay to the petitioner within six weeks the maturity amount of the remaining three FDRs along with interest thereon at the rates applicable from time to time. If the order is not complied with within the stipulated period, the entire amount including regular interest shall carry further interest @ 15% per annum from the date of this order.
[ Anupam Dasgupta ]
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