New Delhi: International banking major Citi Bank has been imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 by the country's apex consumer forum for filing "meritless" petitions against lower consumer fora order asking it to pay Rs 1.80 lakh to one of its car loan customers.

The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) dismissed City Bank's plea challenging Orissa State Consumer
Commission order, saying it has come before the NCDRC "to cover up" its own "faults and negligent acts" in belatedly challenging the district consumer forum order, which had directed the bank to pay Rs 1.80 lakh to its car loan customer.

While imposing penalty on the bank, Justice V B Gupta said the state consumer commission had rightly dismissed its appeal against the district consumer forum as it had filed it after a delay of more than 3 years.

"It is well settled that no leniency should be shown to such litigants, who in order to cover up their own fault and negligence goes on filing meritless petitions in different fora," the NCDRC said.

"As the two fora below have given detailed and reasoned orders which do not call for any interference nor they suffer from any infirmity or erroneous exercise of jurisdiction, the present petition is dismissed with punitive costs of Rs 30,000," it said.

Citi Bank had approached the apex consumer forum against the order of Orissa consumer forum which had decided not to hear its plea after a district consumer forum directed the bank to pay Rs 1.8 lakh to Orissa businessman Pradeep Kumar Patri.

Patri had purchased a car on a loan from the Citi Bank in 2006 and was to pay 60 EMIs via post-dated cheques. He had moved the district forum alleging that the bank did not furnish accounts details to him as to whether there is any outstanding dues and the vehicle was "un-unauthorisedly repossessed" in October 10, 2006.

The bank in its reply said some post-dated cheques issued by the customer had bounced due to which installments were not realised. The bank had re-sold the vehicle to another person in Chhattisgarh a month later.

The district forum in January 2008 ordered Citi Bank to refund Rs 1.74 lakh to the complainant and also pay Rs 5,000 as "compensation for mental agony" and Rs 1,000 as litigation cost.

After the state consumer commission dismissed the bank's appeal against the district forum order on the grounds of delay, it moved NCDRC claiming it had been following the case in the district forum but its lawyer did not inform it as to when it gave the order.

The NCDRC, however, rejected its plea saying Citi Bank is a multi-national bank having large number of employees in its legal department and it did not file the appeal in time only due to "negligence".


(Agencies)