SRI. K. CHANDRADAS NADAR : JUDICIAL MEMBER
The appellant was the opposite party in CC.284/06 in the CDRF, Kannur. The complainants are the respondents. The complaint was filed seeking return of excess amount collected by the opposite party/Shriram Investments Limited with interest and other reliefs. The allegation was that complainant No.1 had availed a loan of Rs.3,10,000/- from the opposite party on 15.4.04. Complainant No.2 was the guarantor for the transaction. At the time of execution of the loan agreement the opposite party had obtained two blank cheques from cheque book issued by SBI and four blank cheque leaves from the cheque book issued by Anjarakandy Farmers Co-operative Bank. In addition opposite party obtained signed blank papers and blank papers signed on revenue stamps affixed. Upto11.9.06 complainant paid Rs.3,10,000/- towards the loan. When the complainants requested the opposite party to settle the transaction exorbitant amount was demanded. At last legal notice was sent on 9.5.06. Notices were also sent on 25.7.06 and on 11.9.06 requesting the opposite party to close the accounts. The opposite party demanded to pay Rs.1,60,910/-. The said amount was demanded without any basis. In the reply notice issued by the opposite party offer was made to settle the loan account for an amount of Rs.3,75,000/- for which the complainant was ready, but the opposite party later failed to settle the accounts, when the complainant approached them. At last the complainants paid Rs.1,25,000/-. According to the complainants an excess amount of Rs.65735/- was paid and the opposite party was legally liable to refund the amount. The complaint was filed alleging unfair trade practice on the part of the opposite party.
2. Before the Forum the opposite party contended that the complainants purchased a bus on the strength of the hire purchase agreement. But they failed to repay the amount on time as agreed. While the complaint was pending they paid all the dues on their own free will. They have not paid any amount in excess. No exorbitant amount was demanded by the opposite parties. It is false to say that cheque leaves issued from the SBT and Anjarakandy Farmers Co-operative bank and signed blank papers with and without revenue stamp were given to the opposite party. There was no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice as alleged.
3. Before the Forum the 2nd complainant gave oral evidence as PW1. Exts A1 to A10 were marked on the side of the complainants. One witness was examined on the side of the opposite party and Exts.B1 to B3 were marked on their side. The Forum after considering the evidence available held that the opposite party was bound to refund the excess amount of Rs.65735/- collected by it. The opposite party was also bound to return the blank cheques to the complainants. It was held that in case of failure to do so, it was liable to pay Rs.15000/-. Aggrieved by the order the opposite party has challenged the order of the CDRF, Kannur. The correctness of the conclusions that excess amount was collected by the opposite party from the complainants and that it had obtained blank cheques from the complainants is to be decided in this appeal.
4. The CDRF, Kannur in arriving at the conclusion that excess amount was collected from the complainants for settling the accounts, relied on Ext.A4 reply send by the appellant. According to the Forum since the appellants had agreed to settle the accounts on receipt of an amount of Rs.3,75,000/-, it was not justifiable to levy excess amount. It is seen that by sending Exts.A1,A2 and A3 respectively on 19.5.06, 25.7.06 and 11.9.06, the 1st complainant requested the appellant to waive overdue interest and collect nominal interest only on the principal amount advanced as the vehicle purchased met with an accident and she was not in a position to ply the vehicle and due to other financial stringencies. It was in response Ext.A4 reply was sent through the Advocate of the appellant. It is mentioned in Ext.A4 that till date of reply on 29.9.06 first complainant had paid a sum of Rs.2,21,500/- as on 31.7.06 as against a sum of Rs.3,59,892/- due to the appellant. But offer was made to settle the transaction on the basis of the accounts maintained by the appellant in the ordinary course of business for a sum of Rs.3,75,000/- provided, the first complainant paid the amount on or before 30.9.06. So request was made to effect payment of Rs.1,60,910/- along with overdue compensation within 10 days. The learned counsel for the appellant urged that the offer to settle the transaction on payment of total amount of Rs.3,75,000/- was a conditional one, the condition being that the payment of the balance should be effected on or before 30.9.06. Admittedly that was not done. So the Forum went wrong in finding that excess amount was collected based on this offer alone. It is evident from the order of the Forum that the finding that excess amount was collected from the complainants was arrived at because the evidence proved payment of Rs.3,10,000/- till 11.9.06 and amount of Rs.1,25,000/- was paid on 22.6.07. So the Forum concluded that Rs.60000/-was paid in excess than the agreed amount of Rs.3,75,000/-. It appears from the evidence that since the first complainant failed to pay the balance amount on or before the date prescribed in Ext.A4, proceedings were taken to attach the vehicle where upon the complainant settled the transaction and thereafter claimed that excess amount was paid based on the offer in Ext.A4. The conditional offer in Ext.A4 was not accepted within the time stipulated. So Ext.A4 cannot be pressed into service to contend that excess amount was paid. It is not the correctness of the accounts maintained by the appellant that is challenged by the complainants. So no finding can be arrived at that there was deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on the part of the appellants. Hence there was no basis in directing refund of Rs.65,735/- to the 1st complainant.
The Forum also directed the appellant to return the blank cheques allegedly collected by the appellant at the time of disbursing loan to the complainants. The appellant had denied the allegation that blank cheques and blank papers were collected from the complainants at the time of granting the loan. In ordering the appellant to return the blank cheques, the Forum mainly relied on the counter foils in Ext.A10 cheque book produced by the complainants. Ext.A10 contains the cheque leaves and/or counter foils of a cheque book issued by the SBI. On the counter foils of cheque numbers 591318 and 591319 it is endorsed that the cheques were issued infavour of the appellant/opposite party. But some of the counter foils are left without endorsement. Ext.A9 contains cheque leaves and/or counter foils issued by Anjarakandy Farmers Co-operative Bank Ltd. Four cheques are seen torn out from the cheque book and in these four counter foils it is endorsed that blank cheques were issued as security for the loan (of Rs.3,40,000/- in one counter foil). All the counterfoils are dated 11.3.04. The two counter foils in Ext.A10 referred to also bear the date 11.3.04. But counter foil of cheque number 591317 in Ext.A10 is seen cancelled and the counter foil of cheque No.591316 bears th
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e date 12.4.06. That cheque was issued for remitting Rs.5000/- in the KSFE. The fact that the subsequent cheques bear earlier date throws serious doubt as to the genuineness of the claim made by the complainant, especially because the endorsement in the counterfoil can be made by the complainant as a document under her custody. So it appears that there is little justification in the Forum accepting the contention that blank cheques were issued to the appellant at the time of obtaining the loan. In short the CDRF, Kannur went wrong in allowing the complaint. Hence the appeal is liable to be allowed. In the result the appeal is allowed. The order of CDRF, Kannur in CC.284/06 dated 1.6.11 is set aside. The complaint is dismissed and considering the facts and circumstances of the case without costs.