In a decision that will benefit the increasing number of people who use the Internet for banking, a Mumbai consumer court ruled that the bank is responsible if money is fraudulently transferred from one account to another using Net banking facilities.
The Mumbai District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum directed HDFC Bank on March 26 to pay Santacruz resident Nikhil Futan the money he had lost with 8 per cent interest, his legal expenses as well as Rs 25,000 for the “mental agony” it had caused.
In October 2008, Futan, who himself works in a bank, found that Rs 4.6 lakh had been transferred from his HDFC account to an account in Lucknow in the name of a Shukla and another in Vijaywada to a Rajiv.
Futan first approached the bank’s customer service centre but, he told the court, his complaint was not heard. He then went to the police’s Economic Offence Wing. In January 2009, the case was handed over to Santacruz police.
Both Shukla and Rajiv were arrested soon after, but the police recovered only Rs 70,500, which was returned to Futan.
Determined to get back the remaining Rs 3. 89 lakh, Futan then went to the consumer court in April 2009.
During the hearing, the bank argued that the money had been transferred after a transfer request from Futan. The bank also pointed out that it had alerted Futan through SMS and email, and that he failed to respond to the intimations.
The bank said an unauthorised transaction could take place only if the customer shares account details with others, uses a shared computer or has malicious software in his computer.
Futan said he had not received any message or email from the bank, and the court accepted his contention that the bank had no evidence to prove there was malicious software or virus in his computer.
Referring to the police arrests, the court said: “From this it is clear that the account holder did not give his assent for the transfer.” It held that the bank had not taken precautions as per RBI Net banking guidelines.
HDFC Bank authorities did not respond to HT’s email; its spokesperson was unavailable.