Chinthamani repays Rs.3.19 cr. to depositors

S. Ganesan

As agreed between cooperative body and consumer forum

TIRUCHI: The Tiruchi Consumers Cooperative Wholesale Stores Limited (Chinthamani Supermarket) has repaid Rs.3.19 crores to 497 depositors.

This includes the payments made by the Chinthamani in monthly instalments over the past two years based on an agreement reached between the cooperative body and the Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, which had spearheaded a legal battle on behalf of these depositors at the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and the state and national consumer disputes redressal commissions since June 2000.

The council took up the cause of the 497 depositors after Chinthamani defaulted on repaying deposits on maturity due to huge losses and mounting debts.

The Chinthamani had already paid about Rs.22.80 lakhs to about 35 depositors who were among the first batch of petitioners before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. However, in subsequent cases the Chinthamani went on appeals over the district forum's verdict before the State and National Commissions.

The State and National Commissions too had directed Chinthamani to repay the dues to the depositors. The Council, in its argument before the National Commission, had demanded that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies should also be held liable for the default in payment.

Meanwhile, the Council reached an agreement with Chinthamani in November 2004 wherein the cooperative body agreed to repay the principal and interest dues to the depositors before December 2006 in monthly instalments of Rs.7.50 lakhs through the Council.

The money repaid in instalments and some earlier payments by the Chinthamani has been distributed to 462 depositors. Though the principal dues have been repaid to all these depositors, the Chinthamani has to pay them another Rs.84 lakhs by way of interest, the Secretary of the Council, S.Pushpavanam, told reporters here on Monday.

The council has decided to take up the matter (regarding the pending interest dues) before the National Commission, at the next hearing of its circuit bench on June 8, R.Natarajan, president of the council, said. Mr.Pushpavanam suggested that the Chinthamani could pay the interest dues in instalments.

Credit cards

Mr. Pushpavanam also appealed to the Reserve Bank of India to incorporate penal provisions for harassment of credit card holders by banks. Even subsidiaries of nationalised banks employ recovery agents, who often abuse and harass consumers whenever disputes arose over payment of dues, he said.

The council has evolved into a training institution with a law student, Abhinav Shankar, from the National Academy of Legal Sciences and Research, Hyderabad, being placed as an intern with the council for six weeks, Mr.Pushpavanam said.

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