The Supreme Court on Thursday halted the National Consumer Dispute Redress Commission's (NCDRC) ruling upholding a state consumer forum's order mandating HDFC Bank to pay Rs. 30 lakh to a man who claimed the money was unlawfully taken from his account. The orders of the NCDRC and the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab, would be stayed, according to a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath, and Hima Kohli, who also demanded a response from the man who submitted the complaint alleging fraud.
The individual had created an account with the bank and was given a net banking facility using the kit handed to him, according to senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, who is representing the HDFC Bank.
"After his account was opened, this man logs into his account through net banking and changes his PIN (Personal Identification Number), adds a beneficiary and makes three transactions in three consecutive days by transferring Rs. 10 lakh each to M/s Luxmi Narain Farm," she added.
The guy was told about the three transactions by SMS and email, according to Arora, but he subsequently filed a consumer complaint alleging illicit withdrawal from his account.
"The bank requested that he visit the branch as soon as possible after receiving his report that his account was being controlled by someone else. Instead of going to the branch, he filed a complaint with the consumer forum” she stated.
According to the senior counsel, the NCDRC highlighted in its order that the Bank appeared before the State Commission but did not present their written version within the time limit set forth in the Consumer Protection Act, and so their right to file any written version was terminated.
As a result, she added, the bank pleaded no facts in defence before the State Commission. On 10 July 2014, the state commission ordered that the three entries in his account, pursuant to which Rs 30 lakh was transferred from his account to M/s Luxmi Narain Farm, Agra, be reversed within 30 days of receipt of the order and that the complainant be provided with a corrected statement of account.
When the bank approached the NCDRC, it recorded everything in an order dated August 26, 2020, but elected not to intervene with the state commission ruling, according to Arora.
The bench asked Arora if the transactions she mentioned were RTGS transactions, and she said yes.
Customers are provided with the RTGS facility when they apply for bank accounts, she said. The bench then asked who was representing the customer, to which the senior attorney replied that it was the first hearing and that no notice had been issued. The bench said it is delaying the NCDRC and state consumer forum orders while waiting for the man's answer and scheduling the case for ultimate disposition on Non-Miscellaneous Day.
The NCDRC noted the admitted facts of the case in its order, stating that the Complainant had a bank account with the appellant HDFC Bank and that there were three transactions of Rs 10 lakh each on 31 October 2011, 1 November 2011, and 2 November 2011, totalling Rs. 30 lakh transferred via RTGS into the account of M/s Luxmi Narain Farm.
Following that, the Complainant filed a complaint with the appellant Bank, alleging that his account had been fraudulently operated by someone, that he had not transferred the money, and that he had not issued any such direction to the appellant Bank for money to be transferred to M/s Luxmi Narain Farm.
On 2 November 2011, he filed a complaint with the bank, which responded with letters dated 16 November and 23 November, in which the bank requested that the guy visit the branch to resolve the issue.
The man had also filed a police complaint, which led to an investigation and an investigation by the police. When the Bank failed to address his concerns, the Complainant filed a consumer complaint with the State Commission, according to the NCDRC.