Widow wins consumer case against SBI


Kalimpong, May 30: The district consumer disputes redressal forum has directed the Kalimpong branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) to compensate the widow of a government servant for the loss of her cheque amounting to Rs 2,89,685.

In an order passed yesterday, the forum directed that Doma Lhamu Bhutia, a resident of Chest Clinic Compound here, will receive an interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum till the date of credit of the cheque to her account. Besides, the bank has also been asked to pay Rs 500 for allied costs she had to go through. The forum comprises members G.P. Chakraborty and Jharna Mazumdar (Datta) and Dilip Kumar Basu, the president.

The forum delivered the verdict following a complaint lodged by Bhutia on September 4 last year, demanding more compensation from the bank for causing undue harassment and mental torture for 18 months, the period the bank took to pay her against the cheque that she had deposited with it. She had also said she was not satisfied with the interest rate of 5.2 per cent and had demanded that it should be 18 per cent.

The ordeal began for Bhutia in 2001 when her husband, Gompo Dorjay Bhutia, died while serving as an employment officer at the employment exchange in Islampur. On March 7, 2005, his office released his GPF money (vide cheque no 049648) drawn in favour of the SBI branch, Kalimpong, but the bank later claimed that the cheque got lost in transit.

It was only after Bhutia approached the Kalimpong Consumers’ Association and subsequent publication of a report in The Telegraph in August last year, that the bank deposited the entire amount of Rs 2,89,685 besides an interest of Rs 21,244. The interest paid by the bank was at the rate of 5.2 per cent per annum.

With the bank refusing to increase the interest rate, Bhutia approached the redressal forum through the consumers’ association. “The verdict would not have been possible without the help of the consumers’ association and especially, its secretary Praful Rao. We also owe it to the media,” said Lobsang Bhutia, the son-in-law of Doma Lhamu.

Rao, on his part, said justice has finally been given out to the aggrieved party. “Residents should take heart from the verdict. It is evident that if truth is on one’s side, even a common man can take on big organisations like SBI,” he added.

When contacted, Sushanta Chakraborty, the chief manager of the SBI, Kalimpong branch, however, declined comment since he was yet to receive a copy of the verdict.

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