HYDERABAD: That feeling you get when you accomplish certain milestones in life is irreplaceable. One such is when you buy your first car with your hard-earned salary. But if such a prized possession is forcefully taken away by a bank on grounds of non-payment of monthly instalments, it can be both painful and humiliating.
That’s exactly what happened to M Esther (name changed). She dragged State Bank of India’s Retail Assets Clearing Centre to the district consumer forum, alleging that her car had been forcefully taken away without a notice being issued to her. She was awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000 by the forum which observed that the bank should have issued a notice first.
Esther, a government employee, bought a hatchback for Rs 4.2 lakh on May 25, 2013, with a loan from the bank. She agreed to pay Rs 7,200 as EMI for 84 months and informed the bankers that the EMIs would be paid as and when the government cleared her bills.
In 2014, she had a health complication due to which she could not attend to work and did not pay EMIs. On February 6, 2015, according to Esther, the bank’s recovery agents forcefully took her car, in full public view, and made her sign documents for seizure. Her repeated attempts to pay instalments and halt the auction process came to nought as the recovery agents did not heed her request, her complaint read.
On the other hand, the bank held that it had never been informed by the borrower about non-payment of instalments for any reason. It claimed that it was not aware that the complainant was sick and issued a paper advertisement before putting up the car for auction.
The forum held that it was improper for the recovery agents to take the vehicle away without informing the car owner. The forum said and ordered the bank to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000.
The order said-
Though the opposite party is entitled to seize the car, issuance of a notice to the borrower was required. Moreover, seizure should be done in accordance with law and that procedure was not followed in the present case