At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K. SURENDRA MOHAN
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. T.S.P. MOOSATH
By, JUDICIAL MEMBER
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. R. RANJIT
By, THE HONOURABLE MRS. A. BEENA KUMARI
By, MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. K.R. RADHAKRISHNAN
For the Appellants: H. Josh, Advocate. For the Respondent: -------
K. Surendra Mohan, PresidentThe opposite parties in C.C. No. 272/2016 of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Alappuzha (hereinafter referred to as the District Commission for short) is in appeal. The appellant is aggrieved by the order dated 25.09.2020 passed by the District Commission in C.C. No. 272/2016, allowing the same. This appeal comes up before us for admission. We have heard the learned counsel appearing for the appellant.2. The dispute in this case relates to payment made by the appellant on cheque No. 919354 dated 14.03.2016 of the respondent/complainant. According to the complainant, the said cheque was not signed or issued by him for consideration. The said cheque had been handed over as a blank cheque to one M/s. Metco Roof Pvt. Ltd. with whom he had some business transactions. When disputes arose between them, he had issued a stop memo in respect of the said cheque, which the appellant acknowledges to have received. Later on, the said M/s Metco Roof Pvt. Ltd. filled up the cheque and presented the same for payment on 14.03.2016. The cheque was cleared by the bank and the amount was paid ignoring the stop memo instructions given by the respondent. Thereupon the complaint was filed by the respondent alleging deficiency in service.3. The complaint was contested by the appellant raising a number of objections. According to the appellant, M/s Metco Roof Pvt. Ltd. which encashed the cheque was a necessary party to the proceedings. Without the said concern on the party array, it was contended that the complaint was not maintainable. It was further contended that the stop memo had been issued in respect of the cheque six months prior to the date on which it was encashed. Stop memo was issued even before the invoice on the basis of which payment was claimed by M/s Metco Roof Pvt. Ltd. was issued. It was also contended that the validity of the stop memo would be available only for a period of 6 months.4. The District Commission considered the respective contentions and rejected the contentions of the appellant. Accordingly, the complaint has been allowed and compensation has been ordered finding deficiency in service on the part of the appellant. It is aggrieved by the said order that this appeal is filed.5. We have heard Adv. H. Josh who appears for the appellant, at length. It is vehemently contended that the date of the invoice as well as the date of the cheque were long subsequent to the date on which the stop memo had been issued. It is also pointed out that normally a stop memo would be valid only for a period of 6 months. According to the learned counsel, a remand of the case is necessary for the purpose of impleading the party who had actually encashed the cheque to these proceedings. The counsel also took up a contention that the bank was dealing in public money and therefore grant of compensation in this case is unjustifiable.6. Having considered the contentions put forward before us, anxiously, we do not find any grounds to admit this appeal or to grant any of the reliefs sought for. Admittedly, the respondent had issued a stop memo in respect of his cheque. Since a stop memo had been issued in respect of the cheque, the question as to whether the invoice was subsequently drawn up or whether the cheque was dated subsequently are all aspects that are irrelevant to the controversy in the present case. As rightly noticed by the District Commission, the respondent had mentioned in his stop memo itself that the cheque issued by him was blank and undated and that it was issued to M/s Metco Pvt. Ltd. In the present case the complaint of the respondent is that despite a stop memo issued by him in respect of his cheque, payment had been made by the bank. The only answer of the bank to the said contention is that, since the cheque was presented 6 months after the stop memo had been issued they had made the payment. Since a stop memo had been issued it was incumbent on the bank to have been more alert and careful in making payment on the said cheque when it was presented for encashment. Especially so, since the name of M/s. Metco Roof Pvt. Ltd., was mentioned in the stop memo and the cheque was presented for encashment by the said company. Even accepting that the cheque was dated long after the stop memo, the bank ought to have checked up with the account holder, the respondent herein, to find out whether it was proper on the part of the bank to make payment on the cheque in respect of which he had issued a stop memo. It is clear from the conduct of the appellant that the due care that is expected of a financial institution like the appellant was not exercised in making payment of the cheque in respect of which the account holder had issued a stop memo. In view of the above the District Commission was right in finding that there was deficiency in service on the part of the appellant. We find no infirmity in the order of the District Commission warranting interference therew
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ith in appeal. Since it is contended that, the appellant is dealing in public money and the amount ordered to be made would adversely affect the public, the appellant shall be at liberty to conduct an enquiry into the circumstances under which the payment was made negligently and irresponsibly as stated above and take action against the erring employees of the bank. With the above liberty, this appeal is dismissed.The appellant shall be at liberty seek release of the amount of statutory deposit made while filing this appeal, on proper application.