The Madras High Court has deplored the "administrative arrogance" on the part of the officials of the leading premier public sector bank State Bank of India towards its customers.
What prompted Justice S M Subramaniam, who slammed the bank officials, was a statement of the officials that the customers (in this case the stamp vendors) are at liberty to approach any other bank for their transactions.
"The above statement in the counter filed by the State Bank of India is to be construed as an irresponsible one. The SBI is a public sector bank and the authorities are the public servants. The petitioners are depositing cash in the government accounts on behalf of the government through Treasury Challans issued to them."
"The statement portrays the 'administrative arrogance' on the part of the authorities in exercise of their powers and the tenor of the statement is a threat to the public administration, as the stamp vendors have no option but to deposit money only in government accounts at SBI branches," the judge said and directed its Assistant General Manager to initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings by conducting an enquiry and find out on what circumstances such statements were allowed to be made in the counter affidavit filed before the High Court.
The judge also directed the bank's general manager to sensitize his subordinates in this regard to develop good conduct with the customers and the citizens. These employees/officials must be reminded that from and out of the transactions through the customers and citizens, their salaries are paid. Thus, they are expected to maintain good conduct always and honour the rights of the customers, the judge added.
The judge made the observations while allowing a batch of writ petitions from the stamp vendors, who prayed that the SBI authorities waive off fully the cash handling charges collected from them in pursuant to an official communication from the State Treasury authorities issued in March 3, 2016 and consequently forbear the relevant SBI branches in the City from collecting any cash handling charges forthwith from the petitioners for purchase of stamp papers.
The judge declared the collection of cash handling charges from the stamp vendors/petitioners by the SBI as illegal and without any authority and directed it not to do so, while the stamp vendors deposit cash in government accounts through treasury challans.
The highest authority of the SBI was also directed by the judge to communicate this order, along with necessary circular/instructions, to all SBI branches and upload the same in its official website, to enable the citizens to know their rights.
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