Robbery of Bank Locker ……whether bank is liable for loss to the customer

 

Robbery of Bank Locker ……the bank is liable for loss to the customer under the Consumer Protection Act

  

Gist

June 13, 2017

  1. 26 lockers at a Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch in Ghaziabad near Delhi emptied out.
  2. CCTVs not working, no guard at bank.
  3. Robbery during week end by gang drilling hole into bank wall.

Facts

A group of thieves demolished a portion of the wall of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) bank’s branch in Ghaziabad  and emptied about 30 lockers.  The value would be in crores of rupees.

The police officers probing the bank robbery found that the CCTV cameras were not working, and there was no guard at the bank.

The police found that the gang had entered the bank by boring through a concrete wall. A dense cover of bushes concealed them as they demolished the wall.

According to the police, the burglary which was discovered on June 12, 2017

took place either on Saturday or Sunday when the bank was shut.


“I visited the crime spot and found that the bank lacks security measures. If any attempt was made to intrude into the bank, a siren should have gone off. But the siren did not work,” said a police officer.

 

Whether the Banks are liable for the loss


Similar locker robberies have taken place from time to time. The Banks deny any liability.

 The RBI and the public sector banks deny any liability

 A lawyer filed applications under the Right To Information Act (RTI) to the Reserve Bank of India  and 19 Public Sector Banks.

 

The Reserve Bank of India  and the 19 Public Sector Banks absolved themselves of any responsibility of items from personal lockers. They replied that Banks are not responsible for the loss or robbery of any valuables from a personal locker because the relationship between customers who use bank lockers and the banks themselves is that of a lessee (landlord) and lessor (tenant). 

 

Decisions under the Consumer Protection Act

 

The following are the arguments usually advanced by banks in such cases:


(i) That since the controversy involved in this case pertains to a criminal case which is also pending  before the competent criminal court, therefore, this Commission had no jurisdiction to decide the matter in question and thus the complaint filed by the complainant is not maintainable.

 

(ii) That as per the agreement executed between the complainant and opposite party  and as per terms and conditions thereof the complainant is estopped from questioning the bank for stolen of the ornaments in the incident of theft which had taken place in the bank.

 

(iii) That under the  conditions of the Safe Deposit Memorandum of hiring of lease,  it is clearly mentioned that the bank would not be responsible for any damages or loss to the contents kept in the safe deposits vault as a result of any act of war or civil disorder or theft or burglary and the contents would be kept by the hirer at his sole risk and responsibility. In light of above, for the loss of articles  in any incident of theft/ burglary, the bank cannot be held liable.

Various Consumer Commissions and Forums have found the bank liable in appropriate cases.  I am giving the link to one decision.

 

Decision of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
RAJASTHAN, JAIPUR

Vivek Agarwal  & Ors.  Vs  Indian Overseas Bank

19 May, 2010

Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA)

 

Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Maha RERA)

RERA has effectively started functioning in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra Government had established Maha RERA on March 8, 2017 for regulation and promotion of real estate sector in the state, with its headquarters in Mumbai.

The RERA act, lays rules and regulation for the real estate sector. It is aimed to bring in much needed transparency, efficiency, and professionalism that will further strengthen home buyers’ confidence.
 

Gautam Chatterjee appointed first Chairman of MahaRERA 

RERA-Real Estate Regulatory Authority came into effect from May 1, 2017.

Gautam Chaterjee, an IAS Officer, has been appointed the first Chairman of the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Maha RERA).


First Case to be decided under RERA

In its  first case,  taken up suo moto, the RERA authority imposed penalty of Rs. 1.2 lakhs on Sai real estate consultant firm

In its first decision in a case taken up suo moto,  the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) norms that have given a big boost to home buyers, a Chembur-based real estate consultant firm has been asked to pay Rs 1.2 lakh as fine for a misleading advertisement of an ongoing construction project.

Penalised under Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) act, Sai Estate Consultant became the first firm to be fined under the act. The Authority’s order, issued on Monday,  stated that the consultant was guilty of advertising a project which wasn’t registered with it at the time of advertising.

Under the new rules, advertising for sale of flats in projects that are not registered with the Authority is considered as a violation under the rules of the regulatory body. The firm, which advertised a project of Haware builders in Thane, has also been asked to withdraw the advertisement and restrain from promoting it in absence of the Authority’s registration.

In addition to the fine, the firm has also been asked to tender an apology. The action comes as result of a complaint, filed in this regard from consumer activist outfit, the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. “We welcome this bold order, and hope builders and real estate agents learn lessons from it,” the activist outfit was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

The entire decision is available at the following site:

https://maharera.mahaonline.gov.in/Site/Upload/pdf/Legal-Advisor-MahaRERA-Vs-Sai-Estate-Consultant-Chembur-Pvt-Ltd-Suo-Motu-Case-No-1-of-2017-dated-5-06-2017.pdf


Important Links

The MAHARERA site states that even if you have filed a complaint in the Consumer Forum, you can with draw the same, and file the Complaint or application in RERA.

https://maharerait.mahaonline.gov.in/PDF/FAQMergedPDF.pdf

  1. If the buyer wants to file a complaint in Consumer Court, is there any bar under the Act?

Ans: No. As per section 79 of the Act, civil courts are barred from entertaining disputes (suits or proceedings) in respect of matters which Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the adjudicating officer or the Appellate Tribunal is empowered under the Act to determine. However, the consumer forums (National, State or District) have not been barred from the ambit of the Act. Section 71 proviso permits the complainant to withdraw his complaint as regards matters under section 12, 14, 18 and section 19, from the consumer forum and file it with the adjudicating officer appointed under the Act.

Web Site of MahaRERA

Link to the Web site of RERA where you can download the Act, Rules and  other documents.

https://maharera.mahaonline.gov.in/Home/Index