Facts of the case:
- Complainant, Tapan Bose, had taken a loan of Rs. 3,40,749/- to purchase Maruti Swift, from the opposite party, ICICI Bank.
- The opposite party had already taken post-dated cheques, so the monthly installments were paid on time. A few installments had been collected through ECS and cash as well.
- After 3 different cheques had bounced, the complainant paid only through ECS or cash. He had been further unable to pay for 3-4 months due to instability in business. He never received any notice regarding the irregularity from the opposite party until 15.01.2007.
- The complainant on 08.01.2007 had visited the DDCA club along with one Vinod, who was the son of the complainant’s friend.
- Vinod, who had insisted on staying behind, was directed by a person claiming to be from ICICI Bank, to reverse the car. When he asked for the reason, he was dragged out of the car and slapped. The first person was joined by three others who beat Vinod with rods that had induced injury to his skull.
- The goons had then, driven the car away. Any effort from Vinod to stop them had resulted in further injury and harassment. The complainant, who had come out to check on Vinod following a missed call, had found him lying on the ground some meters away from where the car was parked.
- Vinod was rushed to the hospital and the complainant paid for his treatment. The complainant filed an FIR. He claimed Rs. 21,00,000/- and Rs.20,00,000/- for himself and Vinod respectively for mental agony, emotional sufferings, humiliation, and harassment. He further claimed Rs. 50,000/- for the hospital fee.
- The opposite party denied involvement saying they weren’t responsible for the acts of the collecting agency or its methods.
The Commission held that the opposite party and the agency were both liable in the case. The complainant was granted compensation of Rs. 5,00,000. The Commission directed the bank to return all the post-dated cheques. They were directed to pay punitive damage of Rs. 50 lacs. as a deterrent for their audacity and impunity.
Learnings from the case:
Banks are liable for the acts of their employees or collecting agents engaged in a contract with them. They have to strictly comply and abide by the code of conduct laid down by the RBI in collecting the installments or getting into contact with the customer for any other engagement. Any conduct against these rules is considered immoral and illegal.