A consumer forum here has imposed a fine of Rs 5.5 lakh on banking major Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Ltd for unfair trade practice of keeping its customer's already settled loan account outstanding and charging interest from him.
The New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum pulled up the bank saying that HSBC's act was not only "motivated by commercial gains", but also by a "malicious mind" to "settle scores" with the complainant, who was a former employee, for challenging his termination in a labour court. "In our considered view, opposite party (HSBC) has not only been motivated for its commercial gains, but also by a malafide malicious mind to settle scores of litigation in labour court over his challenge of termination," a bench presided by C K Chaturvedi said. "We are totally shocked at the behaviour of HSBC in its commercial dealings with a customer, who once happened to be its own employee. Such attempts in unfair trade practices, should be dealt with iron hands... "We hold it guilty of atrociously and maliciously deficient in services to complainant and tormenting the complainant for reasons foreign to commercial dealings," Chaturvedi said.
The forum directed the bank to refund the amount it had charged from Delhi resident Naduthodi Janardanan as interest by keeping his loan account open from 2001 to 2008 and also ordered HSBC to pay him Rs 5.5 lakh as compensation and cost of litigation for the harassment caused to him. In his complaint, Janardanan had alleged that HSBC kept his loan account outstanding despite he having settled it after leaving the bank's employment. Janardanan had also alleged that he was being targeted in this manner as he had challenged his termination in a labour court. HSBC in its defence had refuted the allegations and contended that the complainant had not settled his loan and had instructed them to deduct payment towards it from his accounts with the bank. The forum rejected the contention saying the bank acted "contrary to the instructions" of Janardanan.