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Who is responsible for a stolen cheque and the amount which the original customer whose cheque was duly deposited but he did not get?
As all nationalized banks are working under the control of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) they are expected to follow rules and regulations codified by the same regulatory authority. But if something unforeseen incident happens and if there is no co-ordination or understanding of co-operation between the banks, they are susceptible to legal confrontation.
This has happened in case of a stolen cheque which was deposited in one bank and was en-cashed by the person who stole it by producing it in the bank which had issued the cheque. A bank’s customer received a cheque which was deposited by him in the bank in which he has the account. But after the cheque was deposited it was stolen from that bank.
The person who stole the cheque went to the bank on which the cheque was drawn and en-cashed it and disappeared after getting the amount. Who is then responsible for the stolen cheque and the amount?
The said cheque is not of a small amount. It was issued to an employee of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSECDL) in payment of Rs1, 58 736. This was part of his total amount which he was to receive after retirement.
The person who stole the cheque received the amount but not the concerned employee Shripati Patil. He therefore demanded the amount from the bank to which he had deposited the cheque and it was after depositing it and receiving the due receipt, the cheque was stolen. Hence he should receive the amount. The bank had to pay the amount to Mr Patil who received it from Central Bank of India where he has the account in which he had deposited the cheque.
When the cheque was lost, the matter was informed to the police who circulated information about it to all banks in the area including Bank of Maharashtra on which the cheque was issued on behalf of MSEDCL. But before any such intimation, the stolen cheque was presented to the concerned branch of Bank of Maharashtra and the payment was made.
According to Bank of Maharashtra’s concerned officials the cheque was bearer and MSEDCL having account in the branch issues bearer cheques of such amounts in view of immediate availability of the amount to its employees. MSEDCL has not confirmed that the cheque was bearer, on the contrary clarified that it was crossed.
As the dispute is whether the cheque was bearer or crossed, it was also pointed out that if the amount is over Rs50,000, identity of the person should be established by way of PAN card, etc. As this was not done it was the liability of Bank of Maharashtra to pay the amount to Central Bank which has paid the said amount to Mr Patil who is the legitimate receiver of the amount.
As the Bank of Maharashtra has not yet responded positively, a legal notice has been issued on behalf of Central Bank of India with demand to pay the amount as the stolen cheque was passed without verification and identification.
Bank of Maharashtra has not yet replied but says that the matter is being considered by its legal department. Thus the issue of a stolen cheque, which is being en-cashed by its thief and liability to pay the real recipient of the amount and responsibility of identification before making payment of a cheque over a certain amount—all these matters which are important in banking transactions are now at stake and more so because the tussle is between the two nationalized banks’ branches at Kolhapur in southern Maharashtra.
An RTI query revels that the Nagpur office of the EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) has almost half its current deposits in the ‘unclaimed’ category! The story is the same across the country. As per the latest rules, unclaimed deposits will now also stop earning interest