HDFC Bank directed to pay Rs 5 lakh to an Indian couple who was stuck abroad due to non-activation of debit card

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has directed HDFC Bank to pay a compensation of  Rs 5 lakh to an Indian couple who was stuck in Thailand and Singapore for 10 days as the bank did not activate their debit card. The Commission strongly reprimanded the Bank officials for putting the country’s reputation at stake because of their callous behaviour and lackadaisical approach. Earlier, in Year 2008, Chandigarh-based senior advocate along with his wife had opened a joint account in HDFC after depositing Rs 1.5 lakh and the bank issued a debit card with an assurance that they would face no difficulty in foreign countries. However, after reaching Bangkok, and later in Singapore, their card was not operational. When they contacted the bank manager, they were told that it was due to some minor discrepancy in the date of birth of the woman, which was to be rectified. Even after that the card was not functional. In complaint, District Forum granted Rs.50,000 compensation with interest @ 12%. An appeal was preferred before the State Commission for enhancement of compensation but the appeal was dismissed. Hence, the couple approached NCDRC seeking enhancement of compensation for physical and mental harassment caused in the matter. After perusal of material on record and hearing both the parties, Commission noted, “The (HDFC) Bank has got no love and respect for India. The reputation of India was at stake. Knowing fully well that Indians were trapped in a foreign country, it was the bounden duty of the manager to swing into action immediately. He (the branch manager) committed an egregious mistake for taking no action for 10 days. It exposes the sloth and callousness on the part of the manager to swing into action immediately. He (the branch manager) committed an egregious mistake for taking no action for 10 days. It exposes the sloth and callousness on the part of the manager. This shows negligence, inaction and passivity on the part of the bank.” While observing that the amount of Rs.50,000 awarded by the District Forum, is just peanuts for harassment and mental agony caused to the couple, NCDRC enhanced the compensation to Rs 5 lakh. The Commission also asked the Bank to deduct at least Rs 50,000 from the manager’s salary, out of the said compensation. [Mohinderjit Singh Sethi v. HDFC Bank, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 196, decided on March 7, 2016]

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