Right to Information
Sharad Phadke, the unsung hero who took on banks through RTI, is dead
Pune-based Phadke fought against banks’ refusal to credit back wrongly debited amount from ATM, running into crores of rupees, till his last breath. His task remains unfinished
 
Seventy-three-year-old Sharad Phadke has been filing applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, in several banks, after Rs1,000 was wrongly debited from his ATM card in October 2010. Till he breathed his last on 7 November 2014, his fight against non-compliance by the State Bank of India (SBI) and Corporation Bank in crediting back the wrongly debited amount of hundreds of customers during ATM transactions, remains unfinished.
 
Just like his RTI work that was tenacious and relentless but hardly known to many, his death too was quiet, unknown perhaps beyond his near and dear ones. It was only when I did not receive a reply to my email to him last week, that I sensed something is amiss. For, Mr Phadke’s reply to any email from me would be prompt and to the point. So, I dialled his mobile number with fear in my mind. I felt relieved when a girl, perhaps his granddaughter asked me to hold on. On the line instead came his son, who said his father had passed away on 7 November 2014, peacefully in his sleep.
 
It was traumatic news for me. Phadke would quietly sit in a corner of his house, with a laptop and a heaps of documents through which he fired salvo after salvo at the banks and Reserve Bank of India (RBI). When all failed, he also went to the High Court in search of truth and justice. For that he would travel beyond Pune and Maharashtra.
 
His crusade to restore back his Rs1,000 wrongly debited by Bank of India (BoI), which came with added penalty that the latter had to credit to his account for its 65-day delay (the rule is Rs100 per day of delay beyond 12 days of wrongly debiting from any customer’s account), was highlighted by Moneylife. See Banks must pay Rs100 a day penalty for delay in reimbursement for failed ATM transactions
 
Similarly, he, along with Moneylife doggedly pursued the issue of mass deletion of voters’ names in Pune constituency, where his own name had been deleted and this writer along with him had conducted file inspection under Section 4 of the RTI Act and procured documents, which proved that his and wife’s names were deleted by cooking up false documents. Read: Missing voters: Pune Police refuses to register Phadke’s complaint as FIR
 
Mr Phadke continued to pursue the case of bank penalties running into crores of rupees, which were not being credited back to the customers’ accounts. Four months before he died, he has made a complaint against Corporation Bank for non-payment of compensation for delay in refunding the amount for failed ATM transaction, as mandated by RBI. The figure ran to over Rs5 crore, as per information Phadke procured under RTI.
 
Mr Phadke also conducted a social audit based on the information he got and wrote to the RBI Governor stating that, “Scrutiny reveals that a whopping amount of Rs9.79 crore is not paid by Corporation Bank as compensation for ATM failed transactions during 2010-11 and 2011-12. These transactions have failed at different ATMs of other banks with their own bank.”
 
“My complaint dated 5 June 2014 relating to customers of Corporation Bank whose transactions have failed ATMs of SBI is pending with Department of Banking Operation, RBI, Mumbai.”
 
“This is just a sample audit” he wrote. “RTI revelations are indicative of the fact that most Banks in the country are indulging in ditching its account holders as above, presumably with the blessing and connivance of higher management and auditors. This is generic in nature and not a single aberration. I think it is a serious matter for RBI to act decisively and firmly which is substance of good governance…,’’ he had said.
 
 
Mr Phadke also pleaded to the RBI to order re-scrutiny of quarterly returns that banks submit on failed transactions to RBI with bank board’s sanction. He also brought to the notice of the central bank that, “RBI’s counterpart has imposed penalty of Rs1.77 crore on Reliance Life Insurance Co Ltd for violation of various IRDA directives/legislations.”
 
He followed it up by writing to the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI). He wrote back to me disgusted, stating, Banking Codes appears to be of no use if this is their attitude. Why is this? Why to spend Rs50 for postage and printing? This was Mr Phadke’s reaction to a reply by HS Shetty, vice president, BCSBI, who wrote, “We have to clarify that BCSBI examines the complaint to see whether any systematic issue is involved and if so necessary action would be taken so that such gaps in customer service are rectified to all customers, in general. It is observed that you have already approached Reserve Bank of India, Corporation Bank and State Bank of India. You may follow up the matter with the banks concerned/RBI.”
 
 
Indeed sad, that none of the regulatory authorities took up the cause even after this single individual pointed out lapse in ATM failed transaction of over Rs10 crore. 
 
Mr Phadke’s son told me that some RTI replies have been received. This writer would soon visit his home. Moneylife salutes the valuable contribution of Sharad Phadke in working relentlessly on behalf of the bank customers.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 

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COMMENTS

Pradeep Kumar

2 years ago

Don't give in/up.
I am fighting for 45 days to decode the code, stating the reasons for deducting Rs 164/- from my account.

K.K. Middha

2 years ago

The fight must continue. Many more should join. Injustice, should not be tolerated.
Banks are increasingly adopting method of torturing the public.
IDBI Bank has wrongly debited Rs. 100/- charges for the first year of issue of ATM. The mistake was pointed out more than 3 months back with reminders butso far nothing has been done. They say it is too small a amount. Should I forget.
kkm

Pradeep Kumar

2 years ago

The fight must go on.
We know the history of RTI,
how that victory was won!

u k saluja

2 years ago

For kind attention of Ms Vinita Deshmukh, Consulting Editor of Moneylife and a renowned RTI Activist. It would be apppreciate if you could kindly take up with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs/liquidator at Mumbai with regard to the matters concerning non-payment by the managements of companies like Micro Technologies India Ltd. and Avon Corporation Limited, Mumbai since gone into liquidation after duping hundreds of senior citizens and others by not paying back money to their matured FD holders when it became due despite making committments in numerous communications to their small investors. Cases filed before CLB did not bring in any result, despite many orders issued by the CLB Member Shri A.K.Tripathi since the companies had been ordered to go for winding up based on orders of the Hon'ble High Court judicature, Mumbai because of failure of the companies managements to honour their committments to their foreign and domestic lenders also. Kindly take up with liquidators office for prompt settlement of claims of sick and old promptly. Thanks. U.K.Saluja, New Delhi.

nilesh prabhu

2 years ago

Rest in Peace.

Thanks for the fight.

Bhupesh

2 years ago

Banks have no fear!

Woman board member: Over 300 NSE-listed companies yet to comply
As many as 313 companies listed on the National Stock Exchange have not inducted a woman director as required by the Companies Act till Monday evening - a day before the deadline of having at least one woman on their board.
 
The deadline for most of the listed companies to comply with the stipulation is set to expire on March 31.
 
"Till yesterday (Monday), 313 companies out of 1,498 NSE listed companies have not complied with the legal requirement," Pranav Haldea, managing director, Prime Database, told IANS by phone. 
 
The company operates in the database space pertaining to the primary capital market, covering fund raising by Indian corporates.
 
He said many companies have inducted the close relatives of the promoters to comply with the law.
 
"This is just compliance with the law in letter but not in spirit. There are good number of qualified and experienced women in India who could have been inducted by companies in their boards," Haldea said.
 
Supreme Court advocate and insurance/company/competition law expert D. Varadarajan said: "Simply put, every listed company or every other public company having a paid up capital of Rs.100 crore or more or a turnover of Rs.300 crore or more should have a woman on their board." 
 
A company and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than Rs.50,000 but which may extend to Rs.500,000 under the company law, Varadarajan told IANS.
 
According to Haldea, inducting relatives is a pan-India phenomenon though there are worthwhile exceptions to the general trend.
 
In south India, companies belonging to the Murugappa Group have independent and qualified women as their board members.
 
Similarly, some listed companies in Chennai have also inducted qualified and experienced woman into their board.
 
"It has been a year since these new requirements were introduced with a one-year implementation window, and the results have been mixed," Sai Venkateshwaran, partner and head, Accounting Advisory Services, KPMG in India, told IANS.
 
"Some companies have managed to either bring on an external person as a woman director or promote a key executive to the board, whereas several others have brought on a member from the promoter group to serve as a woman director. However, there is still ground to be covered," he said.
 
According to Venkateshwaran, the new regulatory regime, including the more onerous duties and responsibilities of directors, has made the potential directors more choosy about which company's board they want to serve on, and that has made the process of finding a woman director all the more challenging.
 
"Therefore, while the regulators enforce these requirements, it is important for them to ensure that companies are encouraged to comply with the spirit of the regulation and achieve the objectives rather than just comply in legal form," he said.
 
"Globally there has been an increasing tendency to provide for statutory appointment of women on boards of companies, and India did not lag behind and seized the opportunity while enacting the Act to align our company law to be in tandem with contemporary global company laws. It has also been the experience overseas that the efficiency and functioning of boards have increased with women on top," Varadarajan remarked.
 
Several noted women business leaders are in good demand and leading companies have already roped them as their board members.
 
Board members are paid sitting fees (maximum Rs.100,000 per meeting) and a share in the profits.
 
The final data on the number of companies that have complied with the law will be known by Tuesday night or on Wednesday morning.

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How to make skin summer friendly with basic tips

Doctor Sangeeta Velaskar, vice president and head, Medical Services and R&D, Kaya Skin Clinic, recommends a few tips for a carefree and skin friendly summer

 

Summer season brings along various skin related problems including rashes, tanning and sunburn. From following the essential routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing to maintaing a healthy diet, expert suggests various tips of taking care of yourself in the hot and humid weather.
 
Doctor Sangeeta Velaskar, vice president and head, Medical Services and R&D, Kaya Skin Clinic, recommends a few tips for a carefree and skin friendly summer:
 
* Screen the sun: Zero down on a sunscreen that best meets your requirements and contains sun protection factor (SPF). SPF 30 is best recommended for Indian skin types. Apply sun screen 20 to 30 minutes before stepping out and ensure you wear sunscreen every day, even when you stay indoors.
 
* Follow the essential routine: Follow the cleansing, toning and moisturising ritual twice a day for best results. Summers are most nightmarish time for skin issues, specially acne. To keep your skin acne-free use a cleanser which contains salicylic acid and helps reduce acne and prevent future breakouts. 
 
* Exfoliate: Incorporating exfoliation into your skin care regime is a must to avoid dull skin! Exfoliants remove old, dry, dead skin cells, toxins and other deposits and allow new skin cells to surface. Scrub your elbows and knees at least twice a week to get rid of dead tissues. Rub a slice of lemon with sugar every alternate day to keep them clean and to remove tan.
 
* Hair woes: Since hair tends to be moisture-deprived during summers, overuse of any kind of chemical and hair styling tool should be avoided. Shampooing often results in loss of shine and moisture. Consider switching to a gentle shampoo and use a deep conditioner to replenish the loss of moisture. Massage your hair with a mixture of coconut oil, castor and olive oil regularly to keep your hair nourished. 
 
* Happy Feet: Start with wearing an open sandal in the summer to keep your feet dry and give them a chance to "breathe". Your feet are subject to sunburn just like the rest of your body. Use sunscreen during the day and during the evenings apply a lightweight moisturiser. 
 
* Maintain a healthy diet: With summers in full swing, it is advised that apart from drinking lots of water, a special summer diet consisting of light and healthy food would ensure a cool mind and body. To keep your skin hydrated, eat lot of fresh fruits and green vegetables. Include fruits and vegetables like bitter gourd, spinach, cucumber, watermelons, oranges, cherries, plums and lychee to your diet.
 

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COMMENTS

Pranavi

2 years ago

Awesome tips...
skin care is summer is quite challenging, These tips will definitely ad more value in protecting ore skin. just read one more simpler article on skincare(http://goo.gl/ReN8Mu) which is more relevant.
thank you for sharing this tips...

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