TAMIL NADU

Bank told to compensate for failure to return property documents

CHENNAI OCT. 26. The Andhra Bank has been directed to pay a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to a customer for its failure to return his property documents despite the payment of loan dues.

The Chennai (North) District Consumer Redressal Forum Bench, comprising president, K. Ramaswamy, and member, Nagammai Karuppiah, gave the direction on a complaint by T. R. Venkatesh and two members of his family.

The complainants said they availed themselves of an overdraft facility with the bank's Washermanpet branch for Rs. 2 lakhs.

They alleged that the bank filed a recovery suit even while they were paying the amount promptly. They decided to sell the property to a third party. After a sale agreement was signed and date fixed for registration, the bank did not return the original title deeds.

Owing to the delay, the prospective purchaser issued a notice to the complainants demanding Rs. 1 lakh towards the `liquidatory damage' as agreed upon in the agreement. The sale consideration was also lowered. The complainants sought a compensation of Rs. 4.8 lakhs plus Rs. 1,000 as costs.

The bank, however, denied the charges and alleged that the original documents filed as exhibits in a city civil court went missing while in the custody of the court. Hence, the argument of deficiency in service could not sustain.

The Bench, rejecting the argument, said there were no lawful or valid grounds for not returning the title deeds even after the payment of the entire dues.

Pointing out that the reported loss of documents was not substantiated, the Bench said there was no evidence to show that the bank had taken any step to trace the same.

The Bench concluded that the complainants experienced mental agony and financial loss owing to the non-return of documents and directed the bank to pay a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh along with a case cost of Rs. 1,000 within a month.

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