Bank under obligation to protect consumers interests: The Mumbai Consumer Redressal Forum has directed the Punjab National Bank not to close the account of a lawyer over alleged rude behavior. It also asked the lawyer, a senior citizen, to maintain cordial relations with the bank.“The opponent bank is not entitled to close account of complainant,” the forum ruled after Harish Bhatia approached it, saying the bank had threatened to close his account of 30 years. Bhatia said during a visit to the Kandivli branch of the bank in May 2011 he saw an unknown person giving orders to customers. He said when he complained about it to the authorities concerned, he found their approach very casual.Bhatia told the forum that there was exchange of letters between him and the bank, and later he was threatened with closure of the account. He had approached the forum seeking a direction to the bank not to discontinue his account and seeking a compensation of Rs 25,000. The bank denied all the allegations before the forum and said Bhatia, a practising lawyer, behaved in an uncivilized manner. “We have carefully perused the documents filed on record. The letter sent by the bank to the complainant (about closing his account) is not justified.“There is no evidence on record to justify the said notice. The single instance which occurred due to provocation is not sufficient for parting relationship as consumer,” observed the bench of forum president SD Madake and member SV Kalal. The relation between the complainant and the bank is based on trust. The bank is under an obligation to protect the interests of consumers and render all possible help when he enters in the bank premises, the forum said.“Bhatia being an old customer of bank and an experienced lawyer was under an obligation to promote fair and cordial relationship with the bank,” the forum observed. “We are of the view that Bhatia failed to have patience at the relevant time as a result of which the relations came under strain. The bank is entitled to take reasonable steps as per law, if aggrieved by conduct of the complainant, but complainant cannot be denied his right to operate his account,” it said.
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