The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum at Hyderabad has directed the State Bank of India to pay compensation and litigation costs worth Rs. 1,00,000/- to its customer for debiting his account despite failure of his ATM transaction.
It was the case of Complainant-customer, Udaru Sarvotama Reddy, that he went to an SBI ATM, Hyderabad, for withdrawal of an amount of Rs. 10,000/- but, the transaction was declined due to fault of ATM and no cash was disbursed to him. However, some 20 days later, the said amount was debited to his account.
Contesting the same, The complainant approached the Bank which informed him that the money was 'kept on hold' for some time until they got confirmation that the ATM cash was disbursed; therefore, claiming that the transaction was successful and his account was debited appropriately.
Subsequently, the Complainant approached the Banking Ombudsman, Hyderabad for redressal of his grievance that closed the proceedings without even enquiring him. Consequently, the Complainant approached the forum under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, claiming that there was deficiency in services of the Bank.
During the proceedings, the Respondent Bank maintained that the Complainant's transaction was successful and that the amount could not be debited to his account immediately due to some technical glitch. Further, no excess amount was found in the ATM after the transaction and it was a natural corollary that the Complainant received the said amount.
The Bank further disputed the Forum's jurisdiction and contended that:
Declining the arguments advanced by the Respondent, the bench of President, Nimma Narayana and Member, Meena Ramanathan said that the question of lack of jurisdiction did not arise as the Complainant had his savings account at the Respondent bank and he was admittedly a 'customer'. Further, since he used the bank's ATM, therefore the bank was also service provider of the Complainant.
The bench then noted that the Complainant had approached the Bank and the Banking Ombudsman within 90 days from the dates of the transactions and yet, the Bank had failed to file the CCTV footage in support of their contention. (CCTV footage is preserved for 90 days unless a dispute arises in the intervening period in which case, the footage is preserved for future use)
In this regard the bench said,
"there is no proof of [the customer] having made complaint with the SBI from the date of the incident the obligation on the part of SBI to produce CC TV footage was ruled out due to expiry of maximum preservation period of 90 days from the date of the incident, is nothing but false… Non production of CCTV footage by the opposite party No.1 & 2 even though complainant made complaint to them within 90 days preservation period from 26-01-2017 leads to an adverse inference that the complainant did not receive Rs. 10,000/- ".
The bench further supposed that the technical problem, which the Bank claims delayed debiting of the Complainant's account, fairly warranted that no cash was dispensed at all. The bench said,
"The very fact that Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand only) was debited to the account of the complainant on 15-02-2017 shows that there was technical problems with the SBI ATM. The complainant not getting cash of Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand only) from SBI ATM on 26-01-2017 is quite probable. There is therefore deficiency of service on part of opposite parties No.1 & 2 in providing service to the complainant".
Thereby holding the bank liable for deficiency in its services, the commission directed the bank to pay compensation of Rs. 90,000/- for mental agony and inconveniences caused to the Complainant and further awarded litigation costs of Rs. 10,000/-, payable within 30 days, failing which the Complainant shall be entitled to interest @ 8 % per annum.
The Complainant was represented by Advocate K.C. Venkata Reddy and SBI by M/s. Vamaraju Sri Krishnudu.
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