The suburban Mumbai district consumer redressal forum has penalised Jankalyan Sahakari Bank for clearing several forged cheques and handing over the money to some unknown person without checking with the complainant.
The forum directed the bank to pay back to the complainant Rs59,700 which was fraudulently withdrawn from his account. The forum also imposed on the bank a 10% interest on the amount from 2001. Apart from this, the bank has also been directed to pay Rs25,000 for causing mental agony and Rs10,000 towards the complainant's litigation cost.
Diwakar Singh, a resident of Vikhroli, had approached the consumer forum against the bank for failing to provide proper services. In his complaint, Singh claimed that he and his wife had several accounts with the bank, besides a joint account. "On January 22 and 23, 2001, Singh had deposited six different cheques of Rs4,300 in his current account. On January 23, Singh's wife asked him for some money and he issued her a self cheque of Rs1,000 which eventually bounced. "On seeking an explanation, bank officials informed her that the account did not have enough balance to clear the cheque...," reads the order copy.
When Singh requested the bank officials to give him his transaction details, he realised that seven forged cheques amounting to Rs45,000 were cleared by the bank without seeking confirmation of the same from him. When Singh requested the bank to compensate for the mistake, bank authorities refused to oblige. An aggrieved Singh then approached the forum and filed a complaint.
After going through the complaint, the forum sought an explanation from the bank to which the bank replied, saying no negligence has been committed by them. "Bearer cheques are negotiable and, therefore, the holder of the cheques who signs on the rear side of the cheque and receives the payment may not be the account holder of the bank. Thus the bank might not be in a position to trace out the fraud," claimed the bank in its reply.
The forum after going through the explanation held that it was the duty of the bank to verify the signature on the cheques and then decide on clearing the same. Thus, it amounted to deficiency on the part of the bank, the forum held.