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Bank kills a customer for not paying up




Banks hold funds belonging to customers, and so they have a right to get their money back from people who are unable to repay their loans. The right they do not have is to use non-legal means to get their money back. So, for example, to send musclemen to a person’s house in order to threaten them or to use violence is a crime, unfortunately not something that the current state of our police enforce. However, both consumer courts and courts in the past have come out strictly against such ways of recovering money; the position is that there is a legal way to get the money back, and banks need to use these ways to get the money back instead of harassing or threatening a person.

Well, looks like banks really do not care. The need to reduce their non-performing loans and to get their money back is so strong that they will use the services of goondas and muscle-men to get their money back. And it had to happen – if you give people a financial quest in getting money back, and don’t give strict guidelines about protection of customers, then musclemen are bound to use the language they know and have used before.

Despite the Supreme Court ordering banks not to use strong-arm tactics to recover money from defaulters, a leading bank in the city did just that on Friday and sent its ‘recovery agents’ to a state government employee’s house to reclaim its dues. And within hours of the visit, the 42-year-old loanee breathed his last at a hospital in Ameerpet. The family alleged that he was beaten to death by the bank’s agents.
The apex court in its February order had said that banks had a right to recover dues, but they cannot use force. “You can’t send goondas to their (defaulters) house, there are ladies alone at home,” the judge remarked, disposing of an appeal filed by ICICI Bank against an order passed by the Allahabad High Court rejecting its plea to quash the criminal cases registered by the UP government against the managing director and top officials for using criminal force against a loan defaulter. The Supreme Court asked banks to stop the illegal practice forthwith. It asked them to deal with defaulters as per the procedure laid down in the law and the Reserve Bank of India guidelines.

These are large banks, well regarded in financial circles. Their leading executives win industry awards and are seen as standards of how to conduct businessmen. And at the grass-roots level, this is what normally happens.
Where are our governing bodies ? The RBI and the Ministry of Finance are the two bodies who are supposed to control such behaviour, and I don’t remember the last time they castigated a bank for such violation of rules and of the law. We normally like to start comparing ourselves to developed countries in terms of rules and regulations; if such a thing happened in a developed country, there would have been an outcry and legislators would be discussing this heatedly. The police system would have been out in force to stop such things.




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