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State Bank of India, SCT Engineering College Branch, Pappanamcode, Thiruvananthapuram v/s V. Geetha, Sreenandanam & Another

Company & Directors' Information:- SCT LIMITED. [Not available for efiling] CIN = U31500UP1979PLC004777

Company & Directors' Information:- GEETHA PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U22219KL1951PTC000410

    Appeal No. 518 of 2018

    Decided On, 29 July 2020

    At, Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram

    By, MEMBER

    For the Appellant: H. Josh, Advocate. For the Respondent: In person.

Judgment Text

K.R. Radhakrishnan : MemberThis appeal is filed by the opposite party against the order of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruvananthapuram (‘District Forum’ for short) in C.C. No. 361/2013 by which the opposite party was directed to pay the complainant Rs.7,500/- along with Rs. 5,000/- as compensation within a month of receipt of the order, failing which the entire amount with 9 % interest till the date of realisation will be payable.2. Brief facts of the case are as follows: The 1st complainant is a savings bank account holder of the opposite party bank with account number 67171687169. On 29.04.2013 she booked two air tickets through M/s Make my trip.com using debit card through internet for the travel of her son from Trivandrum to Mumbai and return, using his e mail id. A sum of Rs.5,996/- and Rs. 5,472/- were deducted from her SB Account for the said booking. Subsequently due to personal reasons she had to cancel these two tickets on 13.05.2013 through internet and got confirmation on cancellation and Make my trip.com had assured them of the refund within 1 or 2 working days. On the basis of the information provided by the opposite party bank that the refund amount was not received by them, her son, second complainant, made a complaint to M/s. Make my trip.com on 03.06.2013. Since the money was not credited in her account till 21.06.13 she continued to correspond with Make my trip.com who confirmed the refund. They contacted the Bank several times and the bank was giving false information that money has not reached the bank which resulted in filing a complaint against Make my trip.com before the District Forum. On 29.08.2013, Bank Manager informed the 1st complainant over phone that the money was received by the bank on 17.05.2013 itself. Hence she withdrew the complaint against M/s. Make my trip.com and filed this complaint against the opposite party bank on that day itself. Even though the money was received by the bank as early on 17.05.2013, they were giving wrong information till 29.08.2013. As per the directives of RBI the Bank should have credited the money from the suspense account to her account within 7 days, failing which the complainant is entitled for a compensation of Rs.100/- per day till the money is credited.3. Opposite party filed version and their contentions are as follows. They admitted that the complainant had booked e-ticket on 29.04.2013 for journey to Mumbai and return through make my trip.com and she had made e-payment on the same day through internet banking facility as per complainant’s SB account statement. Subsequently complainant had cancelled the e-tickets using internet facility. On 21.06.2013 complainant had filed a complaint before the Forum against the actual opposite party i.e. ‘make-my-trip’ as CC 268/2013. Later complaint against ‘make-my-trip’ was withdrawn and a fresh complaint was filed against this opposite party without any cause of action against the opposite party. Subsequently bank received in its suspense account an amount of Rs.4,747/- and Rs.4,222/-. This was credited to the complainant’s account on 01.08.2013 as per fair banking practice even without a written request or complaint from the complainant. They also stated that no evidence of having booked e-ticket for the above amount was in her account. The complainant had neither enquired with bank about e-ticket and its cancellation nor submitted a written complaint regarding the tickets and its cancellation. The complainant came to the opposite party bank only on 29.08.2013 and enquired about the refund.4. The 1st complainant was examined as PW1 and Exts.P1 to P13 were marked on their side. DW1 was examined and Exts. D1 to D3 were marked on the side of the opposite party. On the basis of the evidence adduced and the records produced, the District Forum found deficiency on the part of the opposite party and directed them to pay Rs. 7,500/- along with compensation of Rs. 5,000/- within a month, failing which the entire amount shall be paid with 9 % interest till realisation.5. Heard both sides. Perused the records.6. This is a case in which there is inordinate delay of 75 days on the part of the appellant bank in giving credit of two amounts transferred to the account of the customer. The amount pertains to transfer by M/s. Make-my-trip.com towards refund of two cancelled air tickets booked for 2nd respondent by 1st respondent. Tickets were booked on 29.04.2013 from mother’s account (1st respondent) for her son (2nd respondent) and were cancelled on 13.05.2013. Refund was given by Make my trip.com by transferring the amount to the Appellant Bank within 4 days of cancellation of tickets specifically mentioning the account number of the 1st respondent/1st complainant after deducting cancellation charges. Unaware of the receipt of refund by the Bank, the 1st respondent/1st complainant filed the first complaint against Make my trip.com. When they came to know that the amount was already refunded the said complaint was withdrawn and this complaint was filed against the appellant/opposite party before the District Forum.7. Ext. D3 is the statement of suspense account of the appellant bank for the relevant period in which credits of Rs. 4,747/- and Rs. 4,222/- were shown on 17.05.2013 specifically mentioning the account number of the customer/1st complainant. Appellant bank complains about using of debit card by the son of the 1st complainant (2nd respondent), absence of written request from the customer etc. ie. duties of a customer. But, the Appellant has forgotten their duty as a bank to transfer the amount from the suspense account to the customer’s account immediately, when her account number was specifically mentioned. It is a clear violation of the guidelines of the regulator especially when the identity of the customer is abundantly known from the fund transfer details. They should remember that they are the custodian of the funds of the customers, entrusted to them in good faith. No doubt, there is a system in the bank for regular reconciliation of balance in the suspense account. If that was done this issue would not have arisen and a valued customer would not have been put into trouble. It was not proper on the part of the Bank to contend that the complainant used internet Banking facility when she used the debit card issued by the Bank for payment. This is an era of cashless transactions and all Banks encourage their customers to use debit cards for payments and credit points are also given for such usage. Instead of appreciating the customer, the Bank has been penalising her.8. Complainant was unnecessarily dragged to the litigation. The issue is not regarding the delay in credit alone. Because of the lapse on the part of the Bank / wrong information given by the Bank, the complainant proceeded against Make my trip.com, who were not at all at fault. Had she known about the credit, she would not have gone to file a complaint against the Make-my-trip.com, who kept their word to refund the amount on cancellation on time. When the mistake was noticed the appellant should have tried to sort out the matter then and there. We reproduce some observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in “Gurgaon Gramin Bank Vs Khazani&Anr., {IV (2012) CPJ 5 (SC)}”, where only a paltry amount was involved, which are relevant in this context: “Number of litigations in our country is on the rise, for small and trivial matters, people and sometimes Central and State Governments and their instrumentalities Banks, nationalised or private, come to courts may be due to ego clash or to save the officers’ skin”. The court further observed: “Unless, serious questions of law of general importance arise for consideration or a question which affects large number of persons or stakes are very high, Courts’ jurisdiction cannot be invoked for resolution of small and trivial matters.” “Assuming that the Bank is right, but once an authority like District Forum takes view, the bank should graciously accept it rather than going in for further litigation even to the level of Supreme Court”. “We condemn this type of practice, unless the stake is very high

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or the matter affects large number of persons or affects a general policy of the Bank which has far reaching consequences”.We do not find any merit in the contentions put forth by the appellant/opposite party. We concur with the finding of the District Forum that there is deficiency on their part.In the result, the appeal is dismissed with costs and the order dated 29.06.2018 passed by the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Thiruvananthapuram in C.C. No. 361/2013 is confirmed. The appellant is directed to pay an amount of Rs. 5,000/- to 1st respondent/1stcomplainant as costs of this appeal.The 1st respondent/1st complainant can realize the amount of Rs. 5,000/- ordered as costs from the statutory amount of Rs. 6,250/- deposited by the appellant for entertaining the appeal, on filing proper application. Balance amount of Rs. 1,250/- is to be released to the appellant, on filing proper application.