In a significant judgment, the Commission deprecated the "audacity and impunity" with which banks have been effecting forcible possession of vehicles and ordered ICICI Bank to pay Rs 50 lakh to a consumer, who was mercilessly beaten by the recovery agents while they snatched a loaned car from him.
"No civilised society governed by rule of law can brook such kind of conduct," the Commission's president Justice J D Kapoor said, adding the violent methods adopted by the recovery agents were serious violation of "human rights".
Holding the ICICI Bank guilty of "unfair trade practice," the Commission termed such miscreants as "yahoos" and said they are boorish and a brutal lout, who care a fig for legal and judicial authorities, including the Supreme Court. While taking to task the leading bank, it vented its anger on ICICI for flouting the apex court's direction that restrained all the financial institutions from employing musclemen to recover a loan amount or possession of a vehicle.
The Commission, also comprising member Rumnita Mittal, issued notices to the collection manager of ICICI Bank and the CEO of the recovery agency, seeking their explanations over blatant violation of the direction of the highest court of the nation.
Its strong worded order came recently while hearing a complaint by Tapan Bose, whose loaned car was taken away by some recovery agents after beating up his friend's son with iron rods on January 8, leading to serious injuries on his skull and other parts of the body.
ICICI, however, refused to own up the act contending the agents were employed separately by the recovery agency and it could not held culpable for any such act as it had asked the agency to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.
Quashing the bank's argument, the Commission said, "For every illegal acts of the collection agency, the bank is directly liable," adding the consumer had no concern with an internal agreement between the bank and any other agency and they could not be made to pay the price for it.
It termed the musclemen as "robbers and hardened criminals," who beat up a consumer for recovering a few thousand rupees, snatching the key of a vehicle and take it away little realising the urgency or emergency of the person.
"They insult everyone, humiliate the inmates and create scenes. They have driven people to commit suicide for a few thousands," the Commission said in a release, maintaining there was a civil legal remedy for recovering loans and employing goons for this was beyond the parameters of the law.