Woman accuses SBI officers of stealing jewellery from locker

May 10th, 2011 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

State Bank of India Satara (Maharashtra), May 10 (IANS) A businesswoman has accused five bank officials and a lawyer of stealing gold and diamond jewellery worth over Rs.1.2 million from her locker in the State Bank of India branch here, police said Tuesday.

The victim, Lakshmi Gohokar, 55, has in her complaint alleged that she learnt of the missing contents of her locker through an RTI application she filed with the SBI demanding an inventory of her valuables deposited with the bank.

“We have lodged the victim’s complaint late last night and are investigating the matter,” the investigating officer, Satara City Main Police station, declining to be named, told IANS.

According to Gohokar, the bank officials had sent her a notice early this year saying that she had defaulted on paying the bank locker rent - around Rs.7,000 per annum - since the past nearly four years.

“They also warned that if I did not pay up the amount by Feb 18, they would break open and seize the contents,” Gohokar told IANS.

Two days before the notice period was to end, she went to pay the full outstandings, but the SBI officials assured her that there was no issue and she could come back and pay it the next month.

“However, after that when I persistently sought the inventory of the locker contents, they refused to provide it, and finally, in March, I filed an RTI application,” she said.

The SBI’s reply to the RTI application early April revealed the shocking truth - the locker’s contents had been removed Feb 16, two days before she went to pay the outstanding rent and four days before the notice period was to end.

“The entire locker was emptied out without giving me notice that they were planning to open the locker without my knowledge or presence, even though two days later I had personally gone to pay the outstanding rents,” a fuming Gohokar told IANS.

On April 13, she filed an application with the local police, who made the initial investigations and finally registered a formal complaint late Monday night.

The police complaint has named SBI Regional Office Chief Manager B.G. Shende, deputy manager (administration) S.P. Pradhan, C.P. Barge, Manager, Personnel Banking Division, two women deputy branch managers - Kachre and Satpute (their first names are not available).

The complaint has also named the bank’s legal advisor Vilas Deshpande, who is a notary public, besides two independent witnesses.

The police have applied Cr.PC Sec. 34, 409 and 420 against the bank officials and investigations are underway.

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