New Delhi, March 10: A rural development bank in Haryana has been penalised for withholding a loan to a soap maker and has been told by the top consumer court to compensate him Rs.50,000 for “deficiency in service”.
Kuldeep Singh, an entrepreneur from Rewari district, will get the compensation for non-release of a loan instalment of Rs.150,000.
The instalment was withheld despite the officers of the Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank certifying that the applicant had utilised the earlier loan instalments, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said in a recent judgment.
Presiding Member V.B. Gupta and Member K.S. Chaudhari rejected the plea of the bank’s chief executive officer, based in Panchkula, to dismiss the state commission’s decision against the bank and withdraw the Rs.50,000 penalty imposed on it.
“It appears that the amount of earlier two instalments had been utilised by the complainant and the third instalment of loan was not released by the petitioner bank which amounted to deficiency in service and the state commission has not committed any error in dismissing the appeal of the petitioner (bank),” Gupta said.
The bank claimed the applicant had not utilised the earlier loan instalments and alleged that its officials had given a false report on this.
“Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner has taken disciplinary action against the defaulting field officer and branch manager for giving false utilisation certificates and, in such circumstances, it may be held that utilisation certificates procured from the field officer and the branch manager were not true,” the national commission said.
“This argument is devoid of force as no such plea has been taken by the petitioner in the written statement filed before the district forum and only revision petition discloses this fact that chargesheet dated April 30, 2010, has been issued to the delinquent officials,” said Gupta.
Seeing through the bank’s attempt to avoid paying the compensation, the national commission said the complainant was not concerned with this chargesheet and this fact should have been brought to the notice of the district forum and necessary documents should have been filed along with a written statement before the forum which passed the judgment after one year of the alleged chargesheet.
“In such circumstances, cognizance of the chargesheet cannot be taken for setting aside the impugned order,” said Gupta.
The apex consumer court, however, offered partial relief to the bank by reducing the compensation that it was directed by the state commission and the district forum to pay to the complainant.
“The district forum has awarded damages to the tune of Rs.100,000 which has been upheld by the state commission. It appears that this amount of damages is on the very high side. We deem it proper to reduce the amount of compensation to the tune of Rs.50,000,” said the national commission.
“The revision petition filed by the bank is allowed in part and order of the state commission dated June 21, 2011, and order of the district forum dated April 27, 2011, are modified to the extent that complainant (Kuldeep Singh) is entitled to get damages of Rs.50,000 instead of Rs.100,000,” Gupta said.
The bank has the option of moving the Supreme Court against the apex consumer court’s decision.
Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Bawal tehsil, had sought a Rs.600,000 loan from the bank to run his soap manufacturing unit. The loan was sanctioned by the bank’s manager at Bawal by mortgaging his immovable properties.
Kuldeep Singh said in his complainant that the loan was to be disbursed to him in three instalments. The first instalment of Rs.250,000 was given March 13, 2009, and the second instalment of Rs.200,000 was disbursed March 30, 2009, but the third instalment of Rs.150,000 was withheld by the bank.
The district forum on April 27, 2011, allowed Kuldeep Singh’s complaint and directed the bank to release the third instalment and awarded Rs.100,000 as litigation expenses. This order was challenged by the bank before the state commission which dismissed the appeal.
(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at email@example.com