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SBI not responsible if customer hands over money to stranger: panel

The Delhi state consumer commission has allowed an appeal of the State Bank of India that it cannot be held guilty of deficiency in service if a customer loses money after handing it over to a stranger inside the bank.

The Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, while setting aside a district forum’s order, said the lower fora erred in holding the SBI deficient in service.

“The complainant (woman) handed over her currency notes to a stranger and asked him to help her in counting and finding torn notes. Such an exercise cannot be watched by the security man who performs his duty at the gate of the bank,” the commission’s judicial member N P Kaushik said.

“The complainant in the present case herself failed to take precaution. She allowed a stranger to handle her money. I am, therefore, of the considered opinion that the trial forum fell in error in holding that the appellant bank was deficient in service,” he added.

According to the complaint filed by south-west Delhi resident Kanwal Grewal, she encashed a cheque of Rs two lakh from Vasant Kunj branch of SBI and received the cash in four bundles. The complaint further stated that an unidentified person asked her to check the bundle for torn notes and in the process, he pocketed certain notes and left the premises.

The bank security paid no heed to the alarm raised by the complainant, it alleged. The bank, however, contended that she handed over the bundle of currency notes to the stranger for counting.

“It was during this exercise that the stranger took out some currency notes from those bundles and moved out of the bank premises,” it claimed.

The district forum had asked the bank to pay Rs 48,500 to the woman along with a litigation cost of Rs 5,000. The state commission, however, noted inconsistencies in the woman’s statement and set aside the district forum’s order.

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