Husband cannot Use Wife’s Debit card / PIN Even With Her Consent
THE IV ADDL DISTRICT, CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL FORUM, BENGALURU
Mrs.Vandana ……. Complainant
- The General Manager, SBI Local Head Office, Bengaluru
- Branch Manager, SBI Helicopter Division, HAL, Bengaluru …….. Respondents
A simple case of a husband withdrawing money from an ATM using the wife’s debit card and PIN with her consent proved to be costly for a couple in Bangalore. Though the case was decided in June 2018, it is very much relevant for all times. A look at the case that shook up the public.
Facts of the case
- In November 2013, Mrs. Vandana gave her debit card with PIN to her husband Mr. Rajesh Kumar to withdraw a sum of Rs. 25,000 from an SBI ATM nearby.
- When Mr. Rajesh Kumar withdrew the money from the ATM, the machine delivered a confirmation slip stating that the money was debited. But the amount was never dispensed.
- With no cash withdrawn but the amount showing as having been debited, Mr. Rajesh Kumar called the SBI customer care where he was told that it was an ATM fault and the money would be credited to the account withing 24 hours. When he did not receive the refund / re-credit he approached the SBI branch with a formal complaint.
- The Bank had closed the complaint as having “resolved”. However, the money was not refunded / re-credited.
- The couple then produced the CCTV footage of the ATM on the date when the withdrawal took place. However, the Bank refused refund / re-credit citing that the owner of the debit card holder (Mrs. Vandana) was not seen or visible in the footage.
- Using the right to information Act, (RTI) Mrs. Vandana obtained the cash verification report which was obtained on the day after the incident as the ATM was out of order. The cash verification reportclearly showed an excess of Rs. 25,000. Based on that the couple issued a legal notice to SBI. In response, the Bank produced a counter report showing no excess cash.
- The couple approached the banking Ombudsman. The case got closed on the ground that the PIN was shared.
- Aggrieved, the couple approached the Consumer dispute redressal forum in Bangalore in October 2014. She sought refund of Rs. 25,000 along with interest and damages as compensation along with recovery of legal expenses.
The Complainant, Ms. Vandana had stated that she had shared the ATM debit card with PIN to her husband Mr. Rajesh Kumar and not any other third party. This was since she had just delivered a baby and on account of maternity / maternity leave could not herself go to the Bank ATM to withdraw cash. Hence, she requested her husband to draw cash on her behalf. The Complainant with due respect humbly submitted that since she had not received the said amount of Rs.25,000/- when an attempt was made to with draw the cash from the ATM and moreover since the excess cash of Rs.25,000/- had been found in the ATM. The Bank’s inaction has both (to delete) monetarily and mentally harassed the Complainant. The Bank was adopting an escapist route from the responsibilities that they were bound to perform and the Bank was trying to cover their negligence of non-compliance of statutory norms.
In their defense, the Bank stated that it denied refund / re-credit of any money on the grounds that ‘ATM card is non-transferable and should not be used by anybody other than the account holder’.The customer was not entitled to hand over the ATM/Debit card to anybody. The card holder was also bound to keep the PIN number confidentially. Admittedly the Complainant had handed over the ATM card and disclosed the four-digit PIN to her husband and same amounted to violating the terms & conditions of the card usage. As the Complainant was not the author of the transaction in question and having violated the terms & conditions of ATM card usage was not entitled to claim any relief from the Bank. Hence it closed the case.
The Forum noted that SBI issued ATM debit card subject to certain terms and conditions. One of the main conditions being the following:
“Please remember that an unauthorized person can access the ATM services on card holder’s account if he gains the card and the PIN. The card, therefore, should remain in Card Holder’s possession and should not be handed over to anyone else. The Card is issued or the condition that the Bank bears no liability for the unauthorized use of the Card. This responsibility is fully that of the Card Holder. Further the bank will not be responsible for any loss either direct or indirect on account of ATM failure/malfunctioning.”
The forum observed that the above clause should be strictly construed. The ATM card is not transferrable. Therefore there cannot be any exemption in it to handover the said ATM card to the husband/wife/relatives/agents for withdrawal of the money from the ATM. In the instant case, if the Complainant would have been very diligent, she ought to have issued a self-cheque with authorization letter to her husband to draw the amount of Rs.25,000/- from the said bank. But she did not do so. Further it is evident that, Op bank issued the said ATM card with a condition that, it bears no liability for the unauthorized use of the said card. This responsibility is fully that of the card holder i.e. the Complainant herein. Further the bank will not be responsible for any loss either direct or indirect on account of ATM card failure/malfunctioning. These terms & conditions have been violated by the Complainant by handing over of the said card to her husband. When the terms & conditions being violated, the said claim cannot be claimed by the Complainant as per the Hon’ble Supreme Court decision reported in (1996) 4 SCC 704 in the case of Bharathi Knitting co., vs. DHL Worldwide Express Courier Division of Air Fright ltd.,. Therefore, complaint filed by the Complainant is dismissed.
It is however not known whether the Complainant challenged the decision of Consumer Disputes Redressal, Bengaluru before the Competent Authority.
For the text of the Judgement, refer: