Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Consumer Dispute Forum directed Bank of Baroda to pay Rs 1,10,000 to a customer for causing mental agony and inconvenience.

The complainant, K. Vijayachamundeswari, a resident of Nagarjunanagar Colony, purchased a car by availing a loan of Rs 9,95,000 from Bank of Baroda (erstwhile Vijaya Bank), Gandhinagar branch, with an EMI of Rs 21,170 per month, in July 2016.

She had been regularly paying the EMIs from the date of commencement of repaying the loan. Even after undergoing surgeries in August 2017, she made payment regularly irrespective of her health problem. The total amount to be paid as EMI from August 2016, to October 2017, is Rs.3,17,550. However, she cleared the only Rs.2,96,080 during this time.

However, on November 2, 2017, she received two letters from the bank officials. The first one regarding the recovery of the loan amount to pay an amount of Rs. 8,60,377.56 and the other letter was demanding her to pay Rs.3,77,526 towards arrears of EMIs.

The letter was issued by Bank of Baroda, Gandhinagar branch, demanding her to pay the due amount of Rs. 81,439, without enclosing any details or particulars, and under which head, she was liable to pay the amount.

The lady approached the bank to enquire and requested them to furnish the particulars of the said due amount claiming that there was no arrears of EMI till the date. “My husband also visited the Bank of Baroda, Gandhinagar branch manager and the assistant manager, and had repeatedly informed them that there were no arrears to be paid by her and requested once again to check the payment details and also requested for furnishing the account statement. All our efforts went in vain,” said K. Vijayachamundeswari.

She alleged that on November 7, 2017, irrespective of the request made by her, all of a sudden, some 'goons' claiming to be recovery agents of the Bank of Baroda and without showing any identity cards, had come to her residence and showed her a letter seeking custody of the vehicle and created a lot of inconvenience, annoyance to the complainant and her family members. They had gone against the right to privacy of the complainant.

They informed her that they will not move out of her house without seizing her vehicle as it was an order given by recovery officer from the regional office and also threatened her and her husband that if they don’t hand over the keys, they will go up to any extent to recover her vehicle.

“With a lot of stress and agony, my husband had gone to Bank of Baroda, Gandhinagar branch, along with those goons and requested the bank manager and assistant bank manager to check the EMI payment details as there were no arrears from my side and further requested them to stop the recovery process,” said

Vijayachamundeswari.

She said that the bank manager asked them to approach the regional manager and accordingly, they went to the regional office at Himayathnagar, Hyderabad, and explained the entire episode to the chief manager and regional manager.

Both the bank officers directed K. Vijayachamundeswari to pay Rs.81,439 to stop the recovery process as it was already ordered and on failing to do so, the recovery agents will take away her vehicle.

After failing to pay, the recovery agents took custody of her vehicle forcibly. As there was no other alternate option, she paid Rs.82,000 to the Bank of Baroda, Gandhinagar branch and Rs.2000 for release of the vehicle.

After hectic efforts, the bank sent the account statement through e-mail to her on November 10, 2017, in which it showed that there was no default of EMI payments by her. The bank replied that it was a “system-generated mistake”.

The bank denied engagement of goons and said: “This allegation is not only ill-founded but also defamatory. The recovery proceedings are in accordance with the RBI guidelines, under which the account has been a non-performing asset. In view of the non-payment of the instalments, the entire balance amount has become due. That’s why the bank legally demanded the repayment of the entire amount. The legal action initiated by the bank for recovery cannot be treated by her as harassment.”

After examining the evidence provided by Vijayachamundeswari and the bank, the Forum said, “The apparent and admitted faults upon the part of the bank by appointing seizure team to seize the vehicle of the complainant without following due process of law amounts to deficiency of service, apart from adoption of unfair trade practice because of which she suffered a lot of mental agony and trauma which cannot be measured in terms of money.”

The Forum asked the bank to refund the sum of Rs 82,000 with an interest of 9 per cent from the date she paid the amount till realisation. Also, pay a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 for the hardship and mental agony caused to the complainant and pay Rs10,000 towards costs of litigation, the Forum said.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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