ICICI Bank Ltd has been asked to pay Rs 50,000 to a person whose cheque was wrongly rejected by the Bank despite his account having sufficient balance.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission asked the bank to pay Rs 40,000 as compensation and Rs 10,000 as costs to Rajendra Kumar Agarwal, a resident of Kolkata. The order came in an appeal by the bank against a similar order by the West Bengal state consumer commission.
“The dishonouring of the Cheque No.161139 for Rs.1,15,627 was absolutely gross deficiency of service by the Petitioner’s Bank, as the respondent was having sufficient funds in his account at that time,” the NCDRC said.
ICICI Bank had a “high value cheque clearing facility” under whitch cheque clearing cycles complete on the same day and the customer depositing the cheque is permitted to withdraw the proceeds next day morning.
Agarwal deposited a high value cheque for Rs.8,93,546/- drawn SBI on 06.07.2009. According to him, the cheque was cleared and the amount was credited on 07.7.2009.
The account balance on 07.7.2009 showed credit balance of Rs.13,21,678.61 and Agarwal issued several cheques. However, some of his cheques were returned dishonoured for lack of funds and even a self-cheque for Rs.30,000/- was also dishonoured on 07.07.2009 and 08.07.2009.
Agarwal, a businessman, claimed that he suffered loss and damage in respect of reputation and business. On 08.07.2009 at about 2. P.M., Agarwal asked ICICI Bank to generate a statement of accounts from 1st July, to 8th July, 2009 and also wanted to know the grounds of dishonour of the cheques.
According to Agarwal, bank officials misbehaved with him and refused to generate and hand over the statement of accounts.
ICICI Bank, in its turn, blamed delays at State Bank of India for problem.
It said the SBI branch on 07.07.2009, State Bank of India informed the Reserve Bank of India that due to system failure, it would not be able to process the returns and the Reserve Bank of India granted one day extension to the State Bank of India for return clearing.
As a result, Agarwal’s cheque was only cleared late.
Although the cheque amount was reflected in Agarwal’s account, it could not have been withdrawn until and unless the money was cleared by SBI, ICICI Bank said.
The state consumer forum pointed out that Agarwal had more than four lakh rupees in his account even before the cheque had been cleared.
“Even assuming that the aforesaid high amount of Rs.8,93,546/ was not credited in favour of the Account Holder before 15:57 hrs (on 7 July), then also there was no occasion to dishonour the cheque No.167142 of Rs.30,000/-(Thirty Thousand) which was allegedly presented at 11:37 a.m. on 7th July, 2009 particularly when the credit balance stood at Rs.4,28,132.61,” it pointed out.
It may be noted that a consumer court in Chennai had asked Axis Bank to pay squash player Dipika Pallikkal Rs 5 lakh for rejected a hotel transaction using her debit card even when she had sufficient balance in her bank account.