Unity & Trust Society, Jaipur Vs. The Chairman & Managing Director,
Bank of Baroda, Calcutta  INSC 99 (31 January 1995)
R.M. (J) Sahai, R.M. (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Mohan, S. (J)
1995 SCC (2) 150 JT 1995 (2) 51 1995 SCALE (1)387
short question that arises for consideration in this appeal directed against
judgment of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, is
whether a banking company which renders service within meaning of clause (g) of
Section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (referred in brief as 'the Act')
is liable to compensate its customers for loss of service due to illegal strike
by its employees.
for the strike due to enforcement of scheme of transfer by the Bank and its
being illegal due to employees resorting to it during pendency of conciliation
proceedings before the Commission have not been assailed in this appeal.
the finding that the bank was prevented from rendering any skeleton service to
its customers due to unruly behaviour of the employees who not only created
barricades by forming human wall before the bank but even mutilated and defaced
the signature on cheques issued by the bank to cater to urgent demands of its
customers by colluding with employees of Reserve Bank of India is well founded
and unassailable. But what was argued was that since the customers of the bank
were deprived of the services due to strike for 54 days, the bank was liable to
pay such amounts as, "(a) Interest on Over drafts accounts to be
reimbursed at lending rate during the period the account was not operative.
Re-imbursement of interest at the lending rate less actual rate of interest
creditable to the saving deposit account holders.
Interest at the lending rate on the ne- gotiable instruments held in suspense
during this period to be reimbursed to the customers.
Re-imbursement of interest at which the customers may have borrowed 53 money
from elsewhere to meet with their exigencies for the period during which they
could not lay hands on their own money lying stuck in or due to the Bank.
Reimbursement of wharfage, demurrage and such other costs on consignments,
documents of which were lying in the Bank or could not be delivered to the Bank
during this Period and the related period before and after this strike.
Such consequential damages and losses incurred by the customers resultant of
the strike, including compensation for mental and physical anguish and agony
caused due to non- availability of the money or against a limit/loan or over-
draft facility with the Bank.
Such other losses and claims, which may arise out of the actual claims to be
lodged by the customers and/or assessed for the strike period after making
"thorough assessment through an independent agency".
determine merits of this submission, it is necessary to advert to certain
provisions of the Act. A consumer or any registered voluntary consumer
association, like the appellant, is entitled to file a complaint, as provided in
sub-clause (iii) of Clause (c) of sub- section (1) of the Act for deficiency in
service. 'Service' has been defined in clause (o) of Section 2 of the Act and
reads as under :- ""service" means service of any description
which is made available to potential users and includes the provision of
facilities in connection with banking, financing, insurance, transport,
processing, supply of electrical or other energy, board or loading or both
housing construction entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other
information, but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge
or under a contract of personal service" The expression, 'any description'
widens the ambit of the Section and extends it to any service. Therefore,
payment of interest on overdrafts, interest at lending rate, wharfage,
demurrage etc. claimed by the appellant may be covered in the expression
'service'. But 'deficiency' in service has been defined in clause (g) of
Section 2 of the Act as under "deficiency" means any fault,
imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of
performance which is required to be maintained by or under any law for the time
being in force or has been undertaken to be performed by a person in pursuance
of a contract or otherwise in relation to any service" Even though the
depositors were deprived of the service of the bank but the deficiency did not
arise due to one of the reasons mentioned in clause (g). The shortcoming in the
service by bank did not arise due to failure on the part of bank in performing
its duty or discharging its obligations as required by law. Since the
depositors were prevented to avail of the services of the bank not because of
any defi- ciency on the part of the bank but due to strike resorted to by the
employees who almost physically prevented the bank from functioning, the
failure of the bank to render service could not be held to give rise to claim
for recovery of any amount under the Act. Further, the power and jurisdiction
of the Commission is to award compensation under Section 14(1)(d) of the Act as
it has been made applicable to to the Commission by sub-rule (b) of Rule 54 19
of the Rules framed under the Act. Clause (d) of sub- section (1) of Section 14
is extracted below:
pay such amount as may be awarded by it as compensation to the consumer for any
loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite
of these expressions used in the subsection are of wide connotation and are
fully comprehended both in common and legal sense. Negligence is absence of
reasonable or prudent care which a reasonable person is expected to observe in
a given set of circumstances. But the negligence for which a consumer can claim
to be compensated under this sub-section must cause some loss or injury to him.
Loss is a generic term. It signifies some detriment or deprivation or damage.
too means any damages or wrong. It means, 'invasion of any legally protected
interest of another'. Thus the provisions of Section 14(1)(d) are attracted if
the person from whom damages are claimed is found to have acted negligently and
such negligence must result in some loss to the person claiming damages. In
other words, loss or injury, if any, must flow from negligence. Mere loss or injury
without negligence is not contemplated by this Sec- tion. The bank has not been
found to be negligent in discharge of its duties. Therefore, even if any loss
or damage was caused to any depositor but it was not caused due to negligence
of bank then no claim of damages under the Act was maintainable.
these reasons, the appeal fails and is dismissed.
there shall be no order as to costs.