Supreme Court: Person who avails any banking service is ‘consumer’ under Consumer Protection Act

Share this

By Fiona Mehta

 

In the case of Arun Bhatiya vs HDFC Bank and ors, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that a person who avails any banking service falls within the scope of the definition of ‘consumer’ under the Consumer Protection Act, and can take recourse to legal remedies provided in the Act.
A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna ruled that the State Commission was wrong in declining to hear the case of a person on merits merely because the dispute involved the father of the person as well.
Facts of the case:
In this case, the complainant and his father had opened a joint FD in HDFC Bank. An amount of 75 Lakhs had been deposited jointly in the name of the complainant and his father for a period of 145 days. The FD amount was credited to the account of the complainant’s father on the request made by the father on 31 May 2016.
In his complaint before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Lucknow, the complainant contended that upon the maturity of the FD, both the complainant and his father had jointly issued a direction to the bank for renewing it for a period of ten days and despite this, the amount was credited solely into the account of the father.

The SCDRC held that the dispute was primarily between the complainant and his father on the issue of the FD amount deposited, and therefore only a civil court was competent to deal with such a dispute. The NCDRC dismissed the appeal as withdrawn. Later, the complainant filed a review application stating on affidavit that he had not furnished instructions to his counsel to apply for withdrawal of the appeal. But the same was not entertained.

Decision:

The court noted that the essence of the complaint is that there was a deficiency on the part of the respondent bank in proceeding to credit the proceeds of a joint FD exclusively to the account of his father.
“The SCDRC ought to have determined whether the complaint related to deficiency of service as defined under the 1986 Act. The SCDRC had no justification to relegate the appellant to pursue his claim before a civil court. The appellant did not, in the proceedings before the SCDRC, raise any claim against his father. Therefore, the SCDRC was wrong in deducing that there was a dispute between the appellant and his father. Assuming that there was a dispute between the appellant and his father, that was not the subject matter of the consumer complaint. The complaint that there was a deficiency of service was against the bank.”, it added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.