Dr. B.C. Gupta, Presiding Member.
1. This revision petition has been filed under section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, against the impugned order dated 04.08.2015, passed by the West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, (hereinafter referred to as "the State Commission") in First Appeal No. A/1183/2014, vide which, while dismissing the appeal, the order passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Burdwan, dated 17.07.2014, in Consumer Complaint No. 170/2011, filed by the complainants/respondents, allowing the said complaint, was upheld.
2. The facts of the case are that Rabin Ghosh, proprietor, M/s. Ghosh Engineering Works, claiming to be an unemployed youth, made an application on 15.02.2008 before the Block Development Officer under the Swanirbhar Karma Sansthan Prakalpa Project (Atma Maryada) (SKSP) and submitted a project estimate of Rs. 8,90,000/- in the name of M/s. Ghosh Engineering Works. According to the terms of the project, 70% of the cost was to be provided by Bank in the form of loan, for which the complainant approached the petitioner, State Bank of India. The Bank agreed to sanction loan of Rs. 7,01,000/- in the name of M/s. Ghosh Engineering Works and for the purpose, a composite term loan agreement dated 03.03.2009 for setting up small scale industry/small business under the scheme for educated unemployed youth was made. It was agreed that the said loan amount of Rs. 7,01,000/- would carry an interest of 13.75% per annum and the borrower shall repay the amount in monthly instalments of Rs. 13,022/- payable from May, 2009 onwards. The disbursement of the said loan was made in instalments, depending upon the purchase of raw material and machinery etc. The case of the complainant is that after the sanction of the loan, the Bank should have released the entire amount, so as to enable him to set up his business and to pay the instalments of the loan. On the other hand, the Bank declared the said loan as Non-Performing Asset (NPA) on 03.04.2010, when a sum of Rs. 5,73,568/- was due from the complainant to the OP Bank, for which, the Bank had already filed a Civil Suit against the complainant in the Court of Civil Judge (Sr. Division), Burdwan. The complainant filed the consumer complaint in question, alleging that his entire project had been ruined because of non-cooperation of the Bank in releasing the balance part of the loan and hence, a sum of Rs. 18.75 lakhs may be awarded to him as compensation against the financial loss, mental agony and cost of litigation.
3. The complaint was resisted by the OP Bank by filing a reply before the District Forum, in which they admitted that the complainant approached them for the grant of loan for his sheet metal manufacturing business and they sanctioned a loan of Rs. 7,01,000/- to him and into an agreement on 03.03.2009. The rate of interest for loan was 13.75% per annum and the same was repayable in 84 equated monthly instalments of Rs. 13,022/- each. However, the complainant had not deposited any instalment by way of repayment ever since the sanction of the loan due to which it became a bad loan. The payable amount upto 03.04.2010 was Rs. 5,73,566/- including interest. The loan had, therefore, been declared as NPA since 03.04.2010. The Bank was, therefore, forced to recall the advance and had to adjust the securities accordingly. The OP Bank also filed a Civil Suit against the complainant to recover the outstanding loan amount. There was, therefore, no deficiency in service on their part and the consumer complaint should be dismissed.
4. The District Forum, after taking into account the averments of the parties, allowed the complaint and directed the Bank to pay Rs. 4 lakhs to the complainant as compensation due to loss towards interest and securities and damage along with interest @ 10% per annum and also to pay Rs. 1.5 lakhs against compensation for harassment and Rs. 10,000/- as cost of litigation. Being aggrieved against the said order, the Bank challenged the same by way of an appeal before the State Commission, and the said appeal having been dismissed vide impugned order, the OP Bank is before this Commission by way of the present Revision Petition.
5. The learned counsel for the petitioner Bank pointed out at the time of hearing that there had been no negligence on the part of the Bank in dealing with the loan case of the complainant. The learned counsel has drawn attention to the sanction letter dated 03.03.2009, issued by the Bank in which, it was stated in 12(e) of the terms and conditions as follows :-
"(e) Bills, invoices covering consignment will as far as possible/practicable have to be passed through the Bank and to be routed through your cash credit account."
6. Further in the agreement dated 03.03.2009 also, it had been stated as, "and disburse the same in such instalments and stages and periodicity has to be decided by the Bank".
7. The learned counsel has also drawn attention to the copies of the invoices placed on record, saying that the Bank was supposed to release the loan in accordance with the invoices procured by the loanee from time to time. The Bank was not required to release the entire loan amount in one instalment only.
8. The learned counsel for the complainant stated that the said loan had been taken for setting up a project for self-employment of the complainant and hence, the complainant was very much covered under the definition of consumer. In spite of giving sanction of Rs. 7,01,000/- of loan, the Bank released the amount in parts and then stopped releasing further amount due to which, he had suffered a huge loss. The order passed by the consumer fora below was, therefore, in accordance with law and should be upheld.
9. We have examined the entire material on record and given a thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced before us.
10. The facts on record make it very clear that the complainant submitted a project for obtaining loan from the OP Bank and the loan to the tune of Rs. 7,01,000/- was sanctioned against the project cost of Rs. 8.90 lakhs. The sanction letter as well as the agreement executed between the parties are on record and not being denied by either of the parties. It has been made clear in the agreement that the Bank was supposed to release the amount of loan in such instalments and stages, as decided by the Bank. The Bank has tried to explain that the bills, invoices covering consignment, had to be passed to the Bank and routed through cash credit account as far as possible. In nutshell, the case of the Bank is that they reserved the right to release the loan in instalments after having a look at the invoices raised etc., rather than releasing the entire amount of the loan sanctioned in one instalment in favour of the complainant. The stand taken by the Bank seems to be based on normal banking practices and there is nothing unusual in the process of releasing the amount after due verification of the invoices etc. In any case, the Bank released a major portion of the loan to the complainant on various dates as against the sanctioned loan of Rs. 7,01,000/-. On the other hand, the complainant did not repay even a single instalment of loan back to the Bank, due to which the loan became a bad loan and had to be declared formally as NPA by the Bank. The Bank has also filed a Civil Suit against the complainant for the recovery of the money advanced to them.
11. Looking at the terms and conditions narrated in
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the agreement between the parties and that of the sanction letter, no deficiency in service or unfair trade practise on the part of the Bank gets established. It is evident, therefore, that the orders passed by the consumer fora below are perverse in the eyes of law, as they do not reflect a correct appreciation of the facts and circumstances as well as the legal proposition on the subject, as per which the Bank is not debarred from releasing the money in instalments. It is held, therefore, that a gross injustice had been caused to the Bank by virtue of findings of the State Commission. The present Revision Petition is, therefore, allowed and the orders passed by the consumer fora below are set aside. Consequently, the consumer complaint in question stands dismissed, with no order as to costs. Revision petition allowed.