The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused any relief to three officers of the erstwhile Centurion Bank of Punjab (now merged with HDFC Bank) challenging their prosecution for allegedly cheating a Borivli-based family.
Hindustan Times had first reported the case on November 30 – the bank had allegedly forced the family to take insurance cover for their home loan but did not actually insure the loan.
In June 2006, Hansa Mehta’s husband Prakash had taken a home loan of Rs 30 lakh from the Kandivli branch of Centurion Bank of Punjab for a flat in Borivli. The bank had insisted for insuring the loan amount and ultimately included Rs one lakh more as insurance premium on the loan amount.
The Mehtas kept paying regular monthly installments of Rs 35,235 until August 2008, when Prakash died. His family then requested the bank to stop deducting the installments, and settle the balance with the insurance company.
The bank told Hansa that the loan amount wasn’t insured – the insurance claim was rejected and returned to the bank by the insurance company, Aviva in October 2007. She filed a complaint with the Borivli Magistrate Court after the bank’s recovery agents began visiting her house for repayment. Later, HDFC Bank issued a notice to take official possession of the flat.
On November 3, the M H B Colony police station in Borivli lodged an FIR against three officers of the bank — Amitabh Sinha, Rajeshree Sood and Rajiv Bhalla — following orders of the Borivli Magistrate Court.
HDFC Bank challenged the criminal proceedings in the high court, saying the case was a civil dispute and there was no element of criminality involved in it. The bank sought the quashing of the FIR saying the complainant had also moved the consumer court.
That argument failed to impress the division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice R V More, who refused to grant any relief to the bank officials, who then withdrew the petition. The court has, however, allowed the bank to approach the trial court and seek discharge of its three accused officers from the case.
An HDFC Bank spokesperson said: “I cannot comment unless I discuss the matter with our legal officers.”