The Chandigarh District Consumer Disputes Recovery Commission has ordered Tata Motors Finance Limited to return a vehicle which was seized from a Chandigarh resident by its debt collectors without issuing a notice. The commission also ordered the company to pay Rs 1.2 lakh as compensation and court costs.
Sanjiv Thakur said in his complaint that to make a living he bought the Tata Indigo ECS TDI car for Rs 5,26,886 after availing a loan of Rs 3.8 lakh from Tata Motors Finance Limited in December 2015, and had it recorded. Thakur said the loan was to be repaid to the company in 48 monthly installments equivalent to 11,844 rupees.
Thakur failed to pay two installments in 2017 due to a financial crisis, which created an outstanding amount of Rs 48,071.45, which he settled in October 2018. Another installment in January 2019 was in default due to a death in his family. However, he claimed that he paid the remaining installments from February 2019 and thus paid Rs 4,26,590.38 in 36 installments. The balance amount to be repaid was Rs 1,41,921.
Thakur alleged that on March 22, 2019, while he was away in Phagwara, Punjab, after dropping off passengers, five men armed with knives forcibly took the car and fled. He reported the matter to the police, but later learned that it was the recovery officers who took the car away. In accordance with the contract, the car was also kept for auction.
Tata Motors Finance Limited did not file a response or evidence but instead filed a request for Thakur’s dismissal claiming that he had breached the financial discipline of the deal and an amount of Rs 2 ,73,544.54 was due against him as of February 8th. 2018.
The company said the case was referred to a sole arbitrator, who gave him notices, but he did not show up. Then they proceeded ex-parte, and the arbitrator rendered the award on May 5, 2018, in favor of the company with freedom to sell the vehicle to recover the unpaid amount.
The commission, after hearing the arguments, said that Tata Motors, despite its claims, had not produced any documents on file. Even though the car had been auctioned, the company acted arbitrarily and illegally by not intimidating Thakur.
The commission therefore ordered him to return the vehicle to Thakur in good working order, failing which they will be liable to pay the insured declared value of the vehicle (Rs 3,31,380), minus the unpaid loan amount of Rs 1,06,596 as April 25, 2019. He was also ordered to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh for harassment and Rs 20,000 as legal costs.