Canara Bank (formerly Syndicate Bank) had allegedly debited Rs 6.4 lakh from the account of the family pensioner, stating that Rs 96,998 per month pension was credited to her husband’s account in place of Rs 38,604 per month, which resulted in excess payment of Rs 13.4 lakh from March 2019 to February 6, 2021. The HC said the bank is at liberty to recover Rs 4,000 per month.
Though recovery of excess amount is permitted (as per the government’s master circular), that would not mean the (excess) amount is to be recovered in one stroke and, that too, from the petitioner who is a widow depending on family pension and is suffering from ailments at age 73,” Justice M Nagaprasanna said in his order, directing Canara Bank to re-credit Rs 6.4 lakh into the account of Vimala Ramanath Pawar, the petitioner.
The judge said the RBI circular mandates uniform recovery of wrong payments made to pensioners and added that the bank is at liberty to recover Rs 4,000 per month from the petitioner to realise the excess payment.
“For the folly of the officers of the bank in depositing excess amount, the 73-year-old widow is being made to move from pillar to post for getting a meagre sum of Rs 13,055 as family pension, and the bank is also unauthorisedly seeking to debit Rs 6.4 lakh from the money lying in the account. The petitioner pleads that it has become difficult to sustain herself and her grocery and medical bills have all been left unpaid. This state of affairs does not even move the bank and unauthorized debit is continuing,” the judge noted. Justice Nagaprasanna said the bank’s officers were responsible for “callous or reckless transfer” of excess amount.
The petitioner’s husband RV Pawar was a technical assistant executive engineer in the state government and retired in May 2002. He was drawing Rs 38,604 a month as pension in Syndicate Bank account in Hubballi. Following centralization of pension from March 2019, the Centralized Pension Processing Centre started paying pension. The account was transferred from Hubballi to Bengaluru’s Kasturinagar branch. Pawar died on February 6, 2021.
Vimala claimed Rs 6.4 lakh had been debited from her family pension account without any intimation. According to her, the excess amount was not deposited due to the fault of her late husband, and if recovery is made from her account in that regard, she would face a lot of problems as she gets family pension of Rs 13,055. She was not permitted to draw that even once.
Canara Bank said the sudden increase in pension amount was due to a mistake in the CPPC. Whether the petitioner being aware of the deposit or not, cannot be a ground to deny refund of the excess amount as it is public money, the bank argued.