Undue delay on part of bank employees in clearing cheques amounts to deficiency in service, a city consumer forum ruled while directing the State Bank of India (SBI) to pay compensation of Rs15,000 to a Dahisar resident for 20 days delay in clearing two of his outstation cheques.
The Mumbai Suburban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the bank to pay Rs10,000 to complainant Radheshyam Singh towards compensation and Rs5,000 towards cost of litigation.
On February 25, 2008, Singh had deposited two cheques of Rs63,010 and Rs15,706 for realisation in his bank account with the Parle branch of the SBI.
As per SBI guidelines for clearance of outstation cheques, the two cheques issued by Chiplun Post Office in Ratnagiri district were to be cleared and the amount credited to Singh's account within 10 days.
However, the amount was credited to his account after a month - on March 26, 2008. He issued a notice to the bank and sought compensation of Rs5 lakh, and approached the consumer forum after the bank failed to explain the delay.
Denying allegation of deficiency in service, the bank claimed that realisation of the cheques was delayed as an employee of their Chiplun bank had refused to accept the cheques sent by courier, and therefore those were required to be re-sent.
A four-day public holiday further delayed the clearance, the bank claimed.
The bench of forum president JL Deshpande and member Deepa Bidnurkar, observed, "This is not just negligence, but an irresponsible behaviour indicating apathetic and insensitive attitude towards interest of account holders."
The forum has given SBI two months to deposit the amount of Rs15,000 in Singh's account. The bank will have to pay an interest at the rate of 12 % per annum if it fails to comply with the order within the stipulated period.