Consumer court pulls up banks for delaying cheques

September 1st, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has asked three banks, including a state-owned one, to honour local cheques within 48 hours and outstation cheques within seven to 14 days.NCDRC president M.B. Shah, pulling up the State Bank of India, HSBC bank and the Standard Chartered Bank, said the banks will have to “credit local cheques to the consumer’s account the same day or at the most the next day and outstation cheques have to be encashed between seven and 14 days, depending upon the distance from the place where the cheque is issued”.

The commission was dealing with a case in which the complainants had stated that the delay in crediting the cheques was leading to “undue enrichment” of banks, which were earning millions by way of interest on the customers’ money for the delayed period.

Advocate Atul Nanda, one of the petitioners, had pointed out that banks often take more than three days to credit a cheque into a customer’s account, which is a violation of the guidelines laid down by Reserve Bank of India.

“If there is any delay in collection of the said (outstation) cheques beyond the period… interest at fixed deposit rate, or at a specified rate as per the respective policy of the banks, is to be paid to the payee of the cheques,” the commission said in its ruling on Aug 27.

The court directed the banks to comply with the order within two weeks and asked them to put up a notice written in bold letters at every branch informing consumers about the court’s ruling - on the collection period of cheques, including outstation ones, and the interest rates that will accrue in case it is delayed.

Shah also appreciated the complainant in bringing the case to the court. “We appreciate the hard work done by the complainants in drawing our attention to the problem and making the consumers aware of their rights.”

Disposing of the complaint, the commission asked the complainant and voluntary consumer organizations to approach it in future for appropriate relief in case the consumers act is not implemented properly.

The commission asked the banks to publish the guidelines drafted by the commission so that people are made aware of their rights.

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