NCDRC Asked SBI To De-Freeze Pensioner's Account By Stating That 'Pension Is For Survival Which Cannot Be Attached'

Team SoOLEGAL 5 Mar 2019 12:39pm

NCDRC Asked SBI To De-Freeze Pensioner's Account By Stating That 'Pension Is For Survival Which Cannot Be Attached'

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission(NCDRC) upheld the orders passed by the District Forum and State Commission by rejecting a revision petition filed by State Bank of India in which there was a direction given to the Bank to de-freeze the account of one Manika Sarkar, in which her monthly pension was credited.

Manika Sarkar held that account jointly with her son, who was an employee of the Bank. She was a widow of a defense personnel and her family pension used to be credited to her saving account jointly held with her son. There was a case of criminal misappropriation of bank funds filed against Sarkar's son. So on the ground of this act, the bank froze the account of Manika Sarkar, and all transactions in it became barred.

Considering these circumstances, a consumer complaint was filed by sarkar contending that the freezing of account deprived her of monthly pension, which was her only source of income. The plea was opposed by the bank stating that she was not a consumer within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act. It further advanced that the account was not a pension account, but a joint-savings account in which her pension amount was credited at her request.

An interim order was passed by the District Forum directing the bank to permit the Sarkar to operate the account to withdraw the pension amount. But it was clearly stated in that order that she can only withdraw her pension. It was observed by the District Forum that "Pension is meant for survival of the pension holder, which cannot be attached or withheld by anyone".

The District Forum further held that "Pension is meant for survival of the pension holder and prima facie there is urgency. Hence, if the amount is not withdrawn, the respondent will suffer irreparable loss and injury".

Therefore, the appeal filed by Bank against this order was dismissed by the State Commission. It was observed that a person cannot be held liable for the offense committed by her son, who incidentally was a joint holder of the account in question.

Assailing this, the Bank approached the NCDRC. The NCDRC declined interference, noting no irregularity in the orders passed by authorities below. It held that Sarkar was a "consumer" as she had a joint account in the bank, where her pension was regularly deposited. The commission observed that "She cannot be made to suffer, only due to the reason that she was having a joint account with her son, who had allegedly committed an offence. The petitioner bank had no reason to withhold pension".

Tagged: manikasarkar   pension   NCDRC   criminalcase   widow   bankaccount  
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