‘Goof up by bank led to wrongful deposit’: SC sets aside National Consumer Commission order

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The Supreme Court on Friday set aside a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order, in a matter connected with wrong deposit and withdrawal, from an account at State Bank of India.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi said that calling for the report by the National Commission on its own from the officer of the bank was absolutely unwarranted. “Be that as it may, the impugned order passed by the National Commission solely relying upon the suo moto report called for from the respondent-bank during the pendency of the revision application, being highly erroneous, deserves to be set aside and is accordingly set aside. The order passed by the State Commission is restored,” it said.

The matter is connected with the withdrawal of Rs 3 Lakh from petitioner Sunil Kumar Maity’s account at State Bank of India. Maity found that the money, which was deposited through cheque, was withdrawn from the account. Later, it was found the bank had given him the account number of another person by name of Sunil Maity, which led to this goof-up. The bank refused to address Maity’s grievance. He moved the district consumer forum, which allowed his complaint. The West Bengal State Commission noted the bank should have accepted its mistake, by crediting the cheque amount to the account of Sunil Maity, who had the account at the same branch.

The top court noted: “There was no way that the appellant would have known that the second respondent namely Sunil Maity had an account in the same branch. No sane person would deposit cash or cheque meant to be deposited in his account in an account number belonging to another person with similar name.”

It pointed out that the National Commission exceeded its revisional jurisdiction by calling for the report from the bank and made it the basis to conclude that the two fora below had erred in not undertaking the requisite in-depth appraisal of the case.

The top court said the report that tries to absolve the bank of its liability is based on surmises and conjectures, as it holds that bank has every reason to believe that wrong account number was intentionally inserted by the petitioner himself for reasons best known to him or on account of negligence by him by not keeping the passbook in proper custody. “The suppositions are contradictory as well as incredulous and fanciful,” said the bench.

The National Commission, allowing a revision petition by the bank, said the complainant can move the competent civil court under the law.

The petitioner submitted before the top court that he did not know Sunil Maity, the second respondent, and would not have known his account number unless it was given by a bank officer.

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