We continue to hear stories of lenders losing mortgaged property documents of borrowers, resulting in mental agony and loss in value for the property. In another judgement on lost property documents, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed United Bank of India (UBI), now Punjab National Bank (PNB) to pay Rs50.65 lakh to a borrower who was a former employee of UBI itself.
In an order, the NCDRC bench of justice Sudip Ahluwalia (presiding member) and air vice-marshal (AVM) J Rajendra (retd) (member) says, "If anything, the suffering of the complainant would appear to be even more acute since he is very old man, who was aged 63 years when he filed the complaint seven years ago. Furthermore, he happens to be an employee of United Bank of India itself, and it is shocking that the Bank could have acted with such carelessness in keeping safe custody of the vital documents of their own employee to whom they had advanced the loan which was cleared within time."
In 1983, Ashok Kumar Garg obtained a loan of Rs67,690 from UBI's Sufdarjang Development Area branch against the deposit of titled deeds of his property in Tagore Nagar in New Delhi. Subsequently, he fully repaid the loan along with interest. However, UBI failed to return his property documents. He stated that he worked as a teller in UBI and retired on 31 July 2010.
Mr Garg's loan account was transferred to UBI's Karol Bagh branch, but his original property documents were kept at the Sufdarjang Development Area branch, as per legal procedure.
He wrote several letters to UBI demanding his papers. However, he neither received any response nor his documents. In a letter on 29 November 2010, UBI informed him that the documents were not traceable and the Bank was rearranging for the certified copy after registration of the necessary first information report (FIR).
Since the Bank failed to return his property documents, despite several requests, he approached NCDRC.
He contended that the failure of UBI, now PNB, to return the original papers has caused huge losses to him as it has prevented him from raising further loans to expand his business, prevented him from transferring or selling the property and the prices of the property have fallen resulting in a loss of Rs2 crore if the property is sold. "It has also caused financial distress to me post my retirement and the property was the only source to arrange for a decent wedding of my daughter."
UBI (PNB) did not appear before the bench, despite proper service of notice on account of which it had been proceeded ex-parte.
Referring to two previous judgements in complaint case no.46 of 2015 and revision petition no.90 of 2020, NCDRC says, the facts of the present case are squarely covered by the ratio of these two decisions.
Allowing the complaint filed by Mr Garg, the bench directed UBI (PNB) to pay Rs50 lakh towards financial damages, Rs50,000 for mental agony and harassment and Rs15,000 litigation cost.
(Consumer Case No121 of 2016 Date: 19 September 2023)
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