Sumalatha had issued a cheque dated May 15, 2015 for Rs 40 lakh with the belief that she would get Rs 43.60 lakh by November 2016.
Sumalatha had issued a cheque dated May 15, 2015 for Rs 40 lakh with the belief that she would get Rs 43.60 lakh by November 2016.

HDFC Life told to refund Rs 40 lakh to Sumalatha with fine, interest

Sumalatha had issued a cheque dated May 15, 2015 for Rs 40 lakh with the belief that she would get Rs 43.60 lakh by November 2016.

BENGALURU : In a relief to actor-turned-politician Sumalatha Ambareesh, the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed HDFC Life to refund an investment of Rs 40 lakh made by her, along with 7.5% interest per annum from 2017, in addition to a whopping compensation of Rs 10 lakh and litigation expenses of Rs 25,000.

Allowing a complaint filed by Sumalatha in 2017 against HDFC Life for not refunding the invested money with interest, the commission comprising members Ravishankar and Sunita Channabasappa Bagewadi passed the order on May 31.

Holding HDFC Life (formerly HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company) responsible for deficiency in service, the commission stated that it is proven from HDFC Life’s affidavit that its agent Vishalakshi Bhat had misled the complainant and got her to invest Rs 40 lakh, assuring a 9% interest per annum. HDFC Life had also initiated criminal proceedings against Vishalakshi in this regard. The commission said this shows Sumalatha had suffered financial losses due to misrepresentation of facts and misleading information by an agent.

If HDFC Life agents misrepresented facts and misled the clients, the company was liable to face consequences and refund the entire money, but the complainant had to file a complaint before the commission for the refund. HDFC Life could have refunded the amount after deducting the ‘surrender charge’ of the policy because it was issued to the complainant by fraud and misrepresentation. The complainant is entitled to get the entire amount with interest, it ordered.

Sumalatha had issued a cheque dated May 15, 2015 for Rs 40 lakh with the belief that she would get Rs 43.60 lakh by November 2016.

To her surprise, a HDFC Life employee informed her that Vishalakshi was involved in a fraud and had misused customer funds. When Sumalatha visited HDFC Life office, she realised that she was misled by Vishalakshi, who had invested the money in a pension policy instead of a fixed deposit. Sumalatha then wrote to the bank twice in November 2015 and January 2016 requesting for the refund along with assured interest. She also issued a legal notice, but her money was not refunded.

When she approached the commission, HDFC Life replied that the complainant is a well-educated person and on perusing the proposal form she signed, she should have realised that it is an insurance policy and not an investment. The allegations are baseless and the complaint deserves to be dismissed, it claimed.

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