The district consumer disputes redressal forum, Panchkula, has directed the State Bank of India (SBI) branch at Khatauli village in Barwala block to pay complainants `50,000 for wrongly charging floating rate of interest instead of fixed rate on two housing loans.
Floating rate of interest varies according to the market conditions and the rates set by the Reserve Bank of India, while a fixed interest rate has a fixed figure.
Vinod Kumari Verma and Parveen Kumari of Barwala village had taken a `6.8 lakh housing loan, while Rajendar Kumar Singla and Asha Rani, also residents of Barwala village, had taken a loan of `8.5 lakh from Khatauli’s SBI branch.
The controversy was about whether the loan was raised on a fixed rate of interest or on floating rate of interest. It stems from the fact that the complainants, on obtaining the account statement, came to know that the bank had charged interest at 12.5%.
The plea raised by the complainants was that the loan having been raised on a fixed rate of interest, the bank could not have charged interest at 12.5%.
The SBI reiterated validity of charging interest at the above rate by averring that the loan documentation authorised them to charge floating rate of interest. The forum, headed by president Dharampal and members Anita Kapoor and Anil Sharma, observed that the loan documents left no manner of doubt whatsoever that “the payment of floating rate of interest had not been agreed upon between the parties and the items relating to the fixed rate of interest categorically indicated that the loan had been disbursed on an agreement that interest was payable at the fixed rate”.
The judgment added, “Further, the bank never averred that the complainant/loanee had committed any default in the payment of the instalment or that there was any irregularity on his part, which in the opinion of the bank, warranted charging of enhanced rate of interest. Therefore, the bank’s stand has to be legally flawed.”
The forum ordered for refund of the excess rate of interest charged by the bank and also for overhauling the account of the complaint.