President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday strongly objected to the careless attitude of some commercial banks in resolving the complaints of their customers and unnecessarily dragging poor clients into frivolous litigations.
The president also expressed displeasure over the wasting of valuable time of litigants, Banking Mohtasib of Pakistan and the President’s Office.
He expressed surprise that routine matters were being inflated to absurd levels and the cases involving small amounts, to the tune of Rs 5000, were not being settled on compassionate grounds by the banks themselves.
He said different institutions were being unnecessarily burdened with senseless representations causing delays and inconvenience to customers.
The President made these remarks while rejecting two separate representations of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and United Bank Ltd (UBL) against the decisions of the Banking Mohtasib of Pakistan (BMP) and advising them to pay Rs 40,000 and Rs 5000 to the respective account holders.
As per details, Asad Abbas, an account holder of NBP, Khanewal, had used his ATM card to withdraw cash on 03.07.2019, but the transaction was not carried out successfully. Conversely, an amount of Rs 40,000 was debited from his account and he asked the bank to reverse the amount but no relief was given.
Abbas, then, approached the Banking Mohtasib to seek justice, which asked NBP to make good the loss of the complainant by crediting his account with a sum of Rs 40,000.
In the another case, Muhammad Afzaal, an account holder of UBL, Okara had shared his personal financial details after receiving a call from the bank’s helpline on 19.06.2020. Later, a sum of Rs 5000 was transferred from his account, about which he lodged a complaint with the bank.
When the bank failed to provide him relief, Afzaal requested BMP to provide him justice. The Mohtasib asked UBL to credit the lost amount to his account and report compliance to BMP. Instead of implementing the decisions of BMP, both the NBP and UBL challenged the decisions by filing separate representations with the President.
Subsequently, the President held separate personal hearings of both the cases, at Governor House, Karachi, on 29.03.2022, in which he expressed dissatisfaction with the arguments of the banks’ representatives, saying that no justifications had been provided by the respective banks to controvert the claims of complainants and reverse the orders of the Mohtasib.
He rejected the representations and stated that both the matters could have been resolved on compassionate grounds by the banks at their end, but they dragged the poor men into lengthy legal procedures for 2 years over small amounts.
Expressing displeasure over the uncaring attitude of the banks, the President regretted that routine matters had been taken to absurd levels. He underscored that he would not have censured banks if these had been matters of principle.
He noted that Pakistan was a rising nation and couldn’t afford to waste the precious time of its institutions.
The President also directed the banks to educate their customers about digital services, electronic funds transfer (EFT) facility and protection of personal information as well as implementing guidelines of SBP regarding the security of internet banking and installing CCTV cameras at ATM facilities.
Taking note of the problems of account holders, the President had convened a meeting at Governor House, Karachi, on 29.03.2022 which was attended by the Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir, and heads of the National Bank of Pakistan, United Bank Limited, Muslim Commercial Bank, Allied Bank Limited, Faisal Bank Limited, Habib Bank Limited, Soneri Bank Limited, Khyber Bank Limited, Dubai Islamic Bank, Meezan Islamic Bank and the Bank of Punjab.
The President asked the banks to avoid frivolous litigations in a large number of cases involving small amounts. He advised them to resolve such issues at their end on compassionate grounds and make the life of their customers easy by not dragging them through lengthy legal procedures.