Coming to the aid of a 63-year-old woman facing harassment for over seven years and even threats of being listed as a loan defaulter, the consumer disputes redressal forum here directed the financier firms to pay `11.25 lakh as compensation to her.
Coming down heavily on the private firm, Citi Financial Consumer Finance India Limited, that later transferred the loan account to Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited, the forum directed them to pay `15,000 as cost of litigation to the woman, Harjit Kaur Bhatia, a resident of Phase 10, SAS Nagar.
Bhatia had taken a personal loan of `25 lakh at fixed rate of interest of 11% in March 2004. But, despite repeated requests, she was not provided copy of the agreement. She claimed that the financier hiked the rate of interest in June 2006, at which she sought to close down her loan account, expressing willingness to repay the entire loan. But she never heard back.
Now, Kotak Mahindra Bank will have to provide a "comprehensive and correct statement of account of the amount payable" to Bhatia in 45 days, failing which it would have to pay `3,000 a day to Bhatia till the statement is provided.
"The complainant has wished to pay the loan altogether, but the financier has never provided the exact amount payable on any date. It has taken the financier four years to write to complainant that her request has been forwarded to the higher authorities for determination of the amount payable. This is definitely a case of immense harassment, deficiency in service and unfair trade practice," held the consumer forum presided over by Rajan Dewan, on February 18.
The order further reads, "Even as financier claimed that Bhatia [was] not available, surprisingly their agent has been able to collect the monthly installments from her without default. The game of hide and seek is thus being played by the financier and not Bhatia, which to our mind again amounts to harassment and unfair trade practice.
Bhatia had alleged that she was harassed by the financier by visiting her residence at odd hours demanding payment of the monthly installments, and was also threatened she would be blacklisted by Credit Information Bureau India Limited (CIBIL), which would adversely affect her credit rating for all purposes.
Citi Financial argued that the loan was never offered on a fixed interest, and that she was duly informed about the hike in rate in accordance with the agreement signed by her. They claimed that Bhatia had paid only 86 installments against 182 till December 2011, and the rest were still pending. During the course of proceedings, the loan was taken over by Kotak Mahindra Bank.
However, the forum noted that Citi Financial failed to provide the signed agreement to the borrower.