R. Lakshminarasimha Rao, Incharge President
The opposite parties are the appellants.
The respondent filed the complaint for a direction to the opposite parties to pay damages of Rs.3 lakhs for mental and physical agony caused to the complainant.
The case of the respondent is that he is the customer of the appellants bank at Visakhapatnam and used to operate his business transactions through the first appellant and the first appellant allowed him to operate debit balance of Rs.20,00,000/-. The respondent submitted that he availed the facility from 01-4-2004 and the same has been closed by the appellant No.1 on 15-1-2005. The respondent submitted that from time to time he used to clear the dues without any default and the monthly statements of the bank disclose the fact of payment and as a part of their procedure, appellant had sent a letter of confirmation of balance on 31-3-2007 and the account of the respondent has shown debit balance of Rs.8,93,128.16 ps.
The appellant sent a SARFEAST AWARENESS letter on 15-10-2007 stating that the respondent has to pay Rs.4,48,141/- and clear the dues within 7 days from the date of said letter and after receipt of the letter, the respondent made payment of Rs.1,50,000/- on 27-10-2007 and Rs.3,04,000/- on 24-11-2007 and the monthly statement has shown credit balance of Rs.1784/-. The respondent submitted that he deposited an amount of Rs.10,000/- on 29-9-2008 even though the appellant harassed him, he paid Rs.7,00,000/- towards compound rate on the sum sanctioned as credit facility. The respondent submitted that he faced inconvenience in the service rendered by the appellant No.1 and continued his transactions and requested the appellants to improve its service and the respondent received a letter from the appellant No.1 that there is a debit balance in his current account without any proper cause and reason and carried out the said debit balance by imposing compound interest and sent notices to the respondent.
The respondent submitted that the frequent sending of notices to him caused irreparable loss and damage to his business and also mental and physical torture to him and he got issued a notice on 31-12-2008 demanding to pay damages for which the appellants gave reply on 20-1-2009 denying the averments of the notice of the respondent and stated that the respondent has to pay Rs.2,30,208.16 ps as on 31-12-2008 as outstanding due and also issued another notice dated 6-3-2009 with the same contentions which amounts to deficiency in service.
The appellant No.1 though served with notice did not choose to contest and hence he was proceeded set exparte.
The complainant relied on Exs.A1 to A6 in support of his case
The District Forum allowed the complaint directing appellants 1 to 3 pay compensation of Rs.50,000/- within 2 months and 15 days and in default of payment within 2 months and 15 days, the District Forum awarded interest at 9% p.a. on the above amount together with costs of Rs.1500/-.
Feeling aggrieved by the order of the District Forum, the appellants have filed appeal contending that the District Forum failed to consider that the account of the respondent has been settled on 19-2-2010 on payment of settlement amount by the respondent and the letters dated 19-2-2010 and 9-3-2010 are filed before the District Forum which failed to consider the same.
The appellants further contend that the District Forum in the absence of evidence affidavit in support of the complaint averments and proceeded to mark the documents and passed the order without considering the documents along with memo dated 18-1-2012 filed by the appellants. The District Forum has taken into consideration the letter dated 31-12-2008 and failed to consider the letters dated 19-2-2010 and 09-3-2010 issued by the respondent towards settlement and also failed to consider the memo dated 18-1-2012 and granted compensation of Rs.50,000/- without any justification as the respondent has not disputed the letter filed by the appellants and also the respondent did not file his affidavit under the impression that the complaint will be closed for non-prosecution but contrarily the District Forum allowed the complaint.
The Point for consideration is whether the order of the District Forum suffers from mis-appreciation of facts or law?
The facts beyond any dispute are that the respondent is the account holder of the appellant No.1 bank with account bearing NO.006005001266 and the respondent used to conduct business transactions through the account. The nature of the account operated by the respondent with the appellant No.1 bank is current account with debit balance to the extent of Rs.20,00,000/-. The respondent closed the account No.010251001790 on 01-4-2004. It is the contention of the respondent that he used to pay the dues without any default from time to time and on receiving the notice dated 15-10-2007 that the respondent was due a sum of Rs.4,48,131/-, the respondent paid an amount of Rs.1,50,000/- on 27-10-2007 and Rs.3,04,000/- on 24-11-2007.
The learned counsel for the appellant has contended that the District Forum has not taken into consideration the letters dated 19-2-2010 and 09-3-2010 which indicate the settlement of the account by the respondent as also that the District Forum has not considered the memo dated 18-1-2012. The respondent has addressed letter dated 19-2-2010 to the Rajahmundry branch of the appellants that the appellants offered for settlement of loan account No.006005001266 and accepting the offer he had sent two demand drafts for Rs.30,000/- and Rs.25,000/- dated 28-1-2010 towards full and final settlement of the account bearing No.006005001266. Further through the letter the respondent expressed his intention that there would not be any future correspondence in the matter and he has requested for return of the documents.
The respondent addressed another letter dated 09-3-2010 to the appellant No.2 which would also show that the respondent requested for closure of the account and return the documents to him. As such both the documents would establish the closure of the account of the respondent. The District Forum has not considered these documents filed by the appellants and thus the conclusion arrived at, by the District Forum would not meet the requirement of principles of natural justice and the order passed without taking into consideration the entire material on record would be lacking reasonableness.
The delay caused on account of the attitude of the appellants in settlem
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ent and closure of the account of the respondent can be considered as deficiency in service on the part of the appellants. The District Forum has awarded an amount of Rs.50,000/- towards compensation. If the letters dated 19-2-2010 and 09-3-2010 are taken into consideration while fixing the quantum of amount awarded as compensation, the amount of Rs.50,000/- awarded by the District Forum would appear to be on higher side and the same amount is scaled down to Rs.10,000/-. In the result this appeal is allowed in part reducing the compensation from Rs.50,000/- to Rs.10,000/- while confirming the rest of the order of the District Forum. There shall be no separate order as to costs in the appeal. Time for compliance four weeks.