A Kolkata branch of the State Bank of India has been asked by the apex consumer forum to pay Rs 1.85 lakh to one of its customers for breaking open his and his sister's lockers despite payment of the locker rent.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) order came on the plea of SBI against concurrent judgement of the the West Bengal State Consumer Commission and a district forum there holding the bank guilty of rendering deficient service for breaking open the lockers when the customers were not defaulters.
The district forum had directed the bank to pay damages of Rs 2.15 lakh, which was modified by the state consumer commission to Rs 1.85 lakh on an appeal by SBI.
The district forum's order had come on the complaint of Tapash Kumar Majumdar, a resident of 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, who had claimed that when he and his sister had gone to the bank they came to know that their lockers had been forcibly opened along with those of the defaulters.
The NCDRC dismissed the bank's plea, saying "the State Consumer Commission rightly held that Bank had failed to show to it any norm in support of their contention that the bank is entitled to break open the lockers of a consumer where there is no outstanding dues in respect of rental charge of the said locker."
"Order passed by the learned State Commission does not require any interference. The same is flawless," the bench presided by Justice J M Malik said.
In its defence, the bank had submitted that it had inadvertently broken open the duo's lockers along with those of customers who had defaulted in paying the rental charges for the locker facility.
The bank denied having provided deficient service saying that numbers of the lockers to be broken open were published in leading newspapers and the mistake by them was bonafide.
The NCDRC rejected the contention saying since the brother and sister had paid all the rent, they had not checked the notification in the newspapers which was meant for defaulters.