Standard Chartered asked to pay Rs.50,000 compensation

February 16th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The Standard Chartered Bank has been asked by a consumer court here to pay compensation of Rs.50,000 to logistics firm Kuehne & Nagel (India) Ltd for clearing a bearer cheque of Rs.400,000 without comparing the authorised signatures. “Despite guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India to all banks not to make payments against bearer cheques of heavy amounts above Rs.50,000, the bank cleared the cheque of Rs.400,000 without carefully comparing the signatures of the signatory with the specimen signatures, so the bank is held guilty for deficiency in service,” Justice J.D. Kapoor of the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said in his order.

However, the bank pleaded that the firm, being a highly valued customer, was not to be treated at par with others in such type of payments. Thus, there was no practice of ensuring from the customer whether such a cheque had been issued and, therefore, the bank could not be held guilty for any deficiency in service.

But the commission rejected Standard Chartered Bank’s plea, asserting that protecting the interest of the consumer was more important than the bank’s practice.

Kuehne & Nagel (India) Ltd had opened a current account with the bank in 1998 with the signatures of three authorised signatories.

During the period in which the Rs.400,000 cheque was cleared, two of the authorised signatories were out of town and the third signatory had instructed the bank to clear cheques with the signatures of one authorised signatory.

About a week later, when the company received its weekly statement from the bank, it was noticed that its account had been debited in excess of Rs.400,000. Later, this amount was found to have been withdrawn Dec 31, 1999, via a bearer cheque that was neither issued by the firm nor signed by any of the authorised signatories. In fact, the company had never issued a bearer cheque of such a heavy amount.

“Practice of a bank is one thing but to protect the interest of consumers to rule out any offence or fraud, particularly when the payment is to be made across the counter, is another thing. Every service provider is required to take abundant precaution before any loss is occurred to its valued customer,” Justice Kapoor ruled.

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