Prabhakkar Sharma


VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam District Consumer Forum-I has directed a bank, guilty of deficiency in service, to return the original documents to a consumer and pay Rs.25,000 towards compensation and Rs.1,000 as cost of litigation.

The consumer, M. Venkateswara Rao, took a housing loan of Rs.3.8 lakhs from ICICI Bank Home Loans in the city. He paid back Rs.80,000 out of it.

Noting that State Bank of India's Ukkunagaram branch was charging less interest, he took Rs.5 lakhs as loan from the SBI branch to foreclose the housing loan of ICICI Bank.

Accordingly, SBI Ukkunagaram branch issued a cheque dated July 23, 2004, for Rs.3,67,943 in favour of the ICICI Bank Home Loans and the latter's loan was foreclosed.

However, in spite of several requests by the consumer and also a letter issued by the SBI Ukkunagaram branch to the ICICI Bank Home Loans, the documents deposited by the consumer were not returned to him.

Notice issued

Ultimately, the latter issued a notice to ICICI Bank authorities who advised him to approach one Bijupal Nambiar, a branch manager, for settlement of the issue. But even after meeting the official, the documents were not returned and so the consumer filed a complaint (12/2006) against the Managing Director of ICICI Bank in Mumbai and also against the branch manager of ICICI Bank Home Loans in the city, in the Forum, seeking return of original title deeds, compensation and litigation costs.

Deficiency in service

President of the Forum-I Y. Dhilleswara Rao, and members - G. Viswanatha Reddy and D. Suseela - who examined evidence noted that "it had established a rigid and deep-rooted indifference tainted with elements of unfair trade practice" and held it was a case of deficiency in service.

In their recent verdict, they directed the opposite parties to return the documents to the complainant without further delay and awarded compensation and costs.