Mansinghka filed a consumer complaint before the Bhilwara consumer forum, which sent the cheque to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for examination. The lab report showed that the amount had been altered from Rs 399 to Rs 4,95,000 and the payee’s name had been changed from Dainik Bhaskar to Suresh Kumar Meena. The Forum directed the bank to pay Rs 4,95,000 along with 9 per cent interest from July 9, 2016. In addition, Rs 1 lakh was awarded as compensation and Rs 20,000 for legal expenses.
The bank appealed to the Rajasthan State Commission, which set aside the order and remanded the matter back to the District Forum to consider whether the fraudster Suresh Kumar Meena would be a party to the dispute.
Aggrieved that the matter had to start afresh almost from scratch, Mansinghka filed a revision petition before the National Commission, pointing out that the issue involved pertained to lapses in following the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) guidelines.
The National Commission noted that there were several factual errors in the State Commission’s order regarding the identity of the drawer, the payee, and the verification of the Aadhaar card. The RBI has permitted the selective application of its guidelines in case of suspicion only. In this case, Mansinghka had been remiss in allowing strangers to write the cheque, so disappearing magic ink had been used. This allowed the fraudsters to alter the amount and payee's name. Also, the fraud had taken place as the Aadhaar card identification was on the record, and the payment had been signed and acknowledged by the recipient. So, it would be necessary to ascertain whether there was any collusion between Mansinghka and Suresh Kumar Meena. The National Commission concurred with the view that Suresh Kumar Meena should be added as a necessary party and the matter adjudicated afresh by the District. Forum.
Accordingly, by its order of March 4, 2021 delivered by Anup Thakur, the National Commission concluded that the dispute was not simply regarding violation of RBI guidelines. It was a case of fraud and contributory negligence that needed to be adjudicated properly.
The writer is a consumer activist