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Saturday, June 5, 2010

REDRESS YOUR GRIEVANCES AGAINST BANK AND INSURANCE SERVICES THROUGH OMBUDSMEN AND CONSUMER COURTS

Many people have their grievances against bank and insurance companies. On many occasions insurance companies take time to settle the genuine claims of their clients. Similarly many account holders of bank remain dissatisfied with the imposition of rules arbitrarily. Some bank some time fails to satisfy their account holder even in genuine cases. Most of the account holders feel helpless most of the time. They feel aggrieved but do not get Justice from their own bankers. But there are ways and means to get justice from the insurance companies and banks. Reserve Bank of India have placed a system of Banking Ombudsman and IR-DA has placed insurance Ombudsman for redresses of grievances of account holders and policy holders. in all genuine cases they can get justice through these forum. Beside the system of Ombudsman people can approach also consumer court from time to time. Here are few example how clients of the bank approached Banking ombudsman and got satisfactory redresses.


Jatin chowdhury, a wellknown architect of Guwahati, misplaced his cheque book . After a through search when he did not find the cheque book he informed his banker of the incident. The Bank, an intrnational giant, took note of his request but informed that the last cheque drawn by him was honoured a few days before his request was received and amount drawn was Rs 50,000 only. Mr.Chowdhury was surprised to note that an amount of Rs fifty thousand was withdrawn from his account without his knowledge. Mr. chowdhury denied writing a cheque of the amount mentioned by the banker. He visited the bank and found confronted the manger of releasing money without his issuing any cheque. The banker brought out the instrument an it was found that the cheque in question was from his cheque book and signature looked almost similar. the banker insisted tat it is his signature whereas chowdhury felt it was not his signature. Banker remained adamant and did not reverse the entry. Chowdhury was at a loss what needs to be done in the instant case. He was under stress. His relation with th bank was long standing yet the banker refused to oblige him.Banker told him to keep the cheque book insafe custody was his responsibility and the signature on the cheque book was that of his as per bank's record.

On the advice of a friend chowdhury visited the office of the Banking Ombudsman and narrated the story.The secretary of the office directed him to to write a letter once more to the bank since he was, so far, having discussions on the subject verbally. In case the bank did not reply him within a month or if he was not satisfied with the reply received he can approach the Banking ombudsman to redress his grievances. As expected the bank replied to him informing that the cheque issued by chowdhury was from his cheque book and that the signature on the cheque is that of his and that of none other.

The case came up for hearing and ultimately the matter had to be referred to the handwriting expert to determine whether the signature is actually that of the account holder or of someone else. After long proceeding it became apparent that the signature was
copied by someone else and withdrawn the money. The bank failed to verify genuineness of the signature as the cheque was present in rush hours. The verdict went in favour of chowdhury and ultimately the bank had to reverse the debit entry by crediting his account.

The case was an eye opener for chowdhury and to his family. It revealed that though the bankers has enormous power under the statue now a days it cannot take unilateral decision in respect of client. Many banks charges high interest to client if they fail to repay loan amount for sometime. The bank has all power to realize the loan and interest. But in case they charge enormous from the client amount the decision could be disputed. on many occasion the bank can make one time settlement in case client is genuine and trustworthy.

There are two ways to tackle a banking dispute. The first one is that an aggrieved person can approach Consumer court for getting justice and the second one is to approach the banking ombudsman which is much faster. Generally no advocate are allowed to repsnt the client similarly bank also need to handle the case departmentally without the assistance of an outsider or consultant. There are limitation of the amount so far as Banking ombudsman is concerned.This amount may change from time to time. Hence it would be prudent to find out the limit before banking Ombudsman is fomrmally approached. It is not necessary that all the cases get rsolved as soon as Banking ombdusman is approached. But most cases get resolved if grievances are genuine. Ity is prudent to approach Banking Ombudsman for any dispute related to the Bank. The banking ombudsman tries to resolve the issue at first through the process of conceleation. In case this approach did not yield any result betwen the waring partis than he can adjudicate the case and can deliver a verdict, after giving opportunities to present their respective views. The verdict delivered by the Banking ombudsman is binding. But this can be appealed. In most cases views of the ombudsman are accepted by the parties and in rare case only it goes to the higher court.Since the banking omkbdusman is an in- expensive and quick in redness always the matter could be taken up by individual client through this process.

Beside banks even matter related to insurance could be also taken up with the Insurance Ombdusman. there are instances that some of the insurance company refuses to pay the health related insurance claim under the clause of pre- existing sickness without proper verification. These verdict must be challenged by the client. recently a case came to light that a senior citizen took up a travel insuranc policy , after due verfication by the insurance company, before he left abroad from a Nationalized Insurance company. unfortunately the clent had a massive heart attack while travelling abroad. He was hospitalisd and saved. When he prefered the claim it was not paid on the ground of pre existing sickness, which was incorrect. The client wrote to the insurance company number of time that he had no pre- existnig sickness and he had gone through all the procedural examination before taking the policy as per the rule of the company. But insuranjce company did not reply to him for seven month. the claim was that of Rs Twenty lakh. Ultimately h refered the matter to the Insurance Ombudsman with a copy to the Managing Director of the Nationalized Insurance company. Within a month the matter was settled even before Ombudsman could intervene on the matter.

So it is appropriate to take advantage of the system of redress whenever you feel that bank and insurance companies are not genuinely helping you. There are very good banking norms and most of the bank try to help the customers always. But in some cases it fails to see reasons it would be better to approach consumer forum or respective ombudsman.

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