Shyamal Gupta, Member
Present Appeal is directed against the Order dated 18-02-2016, passed by the Ld. District Forum, North 24 Parganas in CC No. 552/2015, whereof the complaint has been dismissed.
In short, case of the Complainant is that he stood guarantor in respect of a loan sanctioned by the OP to one M/s Sen’s Travels Pvt. Ltd. Subsequently, the OP vide its letter dated 07-01-2006 intimated the Complainant that the concerned loan account became NPA w.e.f. 31-12-2005. Thereafter, in the month of February, 2015, the OP sought his comments towards recovery and closure of the concerned loan account. Subsequently, the Complainant submitted a written proposal to the OP. However, the latter did not intimate anything regarding payment of the maturity sum of FD/TD after setting off/adjustment with the said NPA loan nor offered the claimed amount of Rs. 1,50,000/-; hence, the case.
The OP by submitting a WV submitted that two demand loans were sanctioned in favour of one Mr. Swapan Sen, Proprietor of Sen Travel. Both the loans were classified as NPA w.e.f. 01-08-2008. It is the further case of the OP that several reminders were given to both the borrower and guarantor, i.e., the Complainant to regularize the account; otherwise, the proceeds of easy encashable pledged securities would be appropriated, but in vain. The Complainant though submitted a compromise proposal; it was not acceptable to the Bank as any compromise proposal for settlement of loan liability should come from the borrower and the guarantor has no locus-standi to submit any compromise proposal.
Decision with reasons
We have heard the Ld. Advocates of the parties and gone through the documents on record.
The instant complaint case, as it appears, was dismissed by the Ld. District Forum on the solitary ground that being the guarantor, the Appellant could not be treated as ‘consumer’. On thoughtful consideration of the entire facts and circumstances of the case, however, we find no rationality in such thinking. We are fully in agreement with the contention of the Ld. Advocate of the Appellant that bank customers are consumers. The die in this regard is cast by the Hon’ble National Commission long ago [Federal Bank v. Shri Bijon Mishra, 1991 CPJ 16 (NC); Ramkripal v. Union Bank, 1991 CPJ 23 (NC)]. Undisputedly, the Appellant is a customer of the Respondent bank, bearing SB Account No. 7425 and he made two FDs with the said bank, those were subsequently pledged in respect of the disputed loan granted to Mr. Swapan Sen. Insofar as the entire dispute revolves around the subject FD Certificates stand in the name of the Appellant, in our considered opinion, the Appellant is definitely a bona fide ‘consumer’ under the 1986 Act. It appears that instant case has been dismissed out of a totally flawed notion which is not tenable in law.
Regarding pendency of cases, it is submitted by the Ld. Advocate of the Appellant that both the Civil and Criminal cases have been dismissed.
Coming to the merit of the case, we find that although two demand loans were sanctioned in favour of Mr. Swapan Sen, Proprietor of Sen Travel, the Appellant stood guarantor in respect of one of the said two loans, i.e., CC Loan Account no. 664.
It is the case of the Respondent that though the Appellant submitted a compromise proposal, the same could not be accepted because any compromise proposal for settlement of loan liability should come from the borrower and the guarantor has no locus standi in this regard. Significantly, the Respondent has not placed on record the relevant governing rule to buttress such contention.
It also appears that although the concerned loan account was classified as NPA long ago, the Respondent did not act with due alacrity to recover its due from the concerned defaulter. There was seemingly no legal impediment to do so. In view of this, such lackadaisical attitude shown by the Appellant to act tough against the defaulter does raise eyebrows. The Respondent did send some reminders to both the borrower as well as the guarantor to regularize the account. However, mere sending of periodical reminders to a defaulter does not abdicate the bank of all its responsibility. No documentary proof is forthcoming before us to show that the Respondent took all necessary steps as laid down by the RBI in the matter. In the process, as we find, the FD Certificates of the Appellants were hold to ransom.
We could pass necessary order in the matter from this end itself. However, owing to non-availability of sufficient documents/information/clarity, we are constrained to remand the case to the Ld. District Forum to re-hear the matter and decide its fate after obtaining following documents/information from the Respondent:
(1) The actual date when the concerned CC Account was classified as NPA; (2) Detail Statement of Account in respect of the CC Loan Account no. 664 as on the date when it was classified as NPA; (3) Statement of account in respect of CC Loan Account no. 664 as on 23-02-2015 when the Respondent submitted compromise proposal; (4) Copy of the letter by which the Respondent rejected the compromise proposal of the Appellant dated 23-02-2015; (5) Relevant RBI/Banking Rules under which Guarantor is not permitted to submit compromise proposal; (6) Value of the concerned FD Certificates as on 23-02-2015 stood in the name of the Appellant (the Respondent must clarify whether it is renewing the FDs on a regular basis till date, or not); (7) RBI guideline regarding recovery of NPA loan applicable as on the date when the concerned account was classified as NPA by the Respondent vis--vis
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steps initiated against the principal borrower Mr. Swapan Sen of M/s Sen Travels by the Respondent Bank together with relevant documents. On receipt of aforesaid documents/information, the Ld. District Forum shall pass a reasoned order in the matter as expeditiously as posible. The Appeal, thus, succeeds in part. Hence, ORDERED The Appeal stands allowed on contest in part. The impugned order is hereby set aside. Parties to appear before the Ld. District Forum on 24-07-2018 when Respondent shall invariably furnish the documents/information mentioned hereinabove under affidavit.