Indian Overseas Bank asked to pay damages to widow

New Delhi: Holding the Indian Overseas Bank guilty of not following the RBI norms for payment of money to the legal heirs of an account holder after his death, a Delhi district consumer forum has asked the bank to pay Rs 10,000 as damages to the widow of one of its customers.

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (Central) held the bank guilty of deficient service for not paying the money to the widow, Seema Thakur, of Bansi Lal Thakur, who had his account with the bank.

Due to non-payment of money to her, the hapless woman had failed to deposit her son`s fees, resulting in cancellation of his admission to the school. "By not following the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the bank caused hardship to the complainant (Seema), who suffered after the death of her husband and could not pay the school and examination fees of her son. The act of the bank has caused deficiency in service," the forum said.

The forum presided by B B Chaudhary gave the order on the plea of South Delhi resident, Seema, who had alleged that the bank failed to disburse the amount deposited with it by her late husband, resulting in her son being debarred from school as she couldn`t deposit the fees.

She said in her plea that she had approached the bank for the money deposited in it by her late husband as it was needed urgently for payment of the school fees of her children.

The bank, in its defence said, there was no nominee listed in its late customer`s account to receive money from it and it could not be disbursed to his wife and two children alone as his mother too was entitled to the money and her `no objection certificate` was not shown.

The forum observed that the bank "kept the amount of the complainant and her two sons against the guidelines of Reserve Bank of India and must have used that amount for its benefit."

The forum observed that in the absence of a nominee, as per RBI norms, the banks are to adopt a simple procedure for repayment of the money deposited with it to the legal heirs of the depositor keeping in view their urgent need to avoid causing undue hardship to them.

It said that the norms provided that the banks may fix a minimum threshold limit, for the amount in account of the deceased depositors, up to which a claim could be settled without insisting on production of any documentation other than a letter of indemnity.