In a recent case, the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressel Commission imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakhs on ICICI Bank for refusing credit card facility to a practicing advocate – Nivedita Sharma on the grounds that her profession has a negative profile.
The Commission reprimanded the bank for not taking the RBI guidelines and other relevant criterion into consideration before taking the decision and in the process causing mental torture to the complainant. The Commission stated that this whole issue degrades the status of the legal fraternity.
According to the complainant, it was the customer care executive of the bank who had approached her with the credit card facility of the bank. When she agreed, she was asked to fill an application form and provide the bank with the relevant legal papers, which would make her eligible for this facility. But her application got rejected with a note stating, “Designation — negative profile.”
Thus along with the fine the bank was also asked to compensate Nivedita with a sum of Rs 50,000 for the mental torture she faced in the whole ordeal.
The bank, on its part, clarified that they do not have any such policy which prohibits people in the legal profession from accessing their credit card facility. But every interested candidate, irrespective of their profession, had to fulfill certain conditions before becoming eligible for the credit card facility. According to them the reason behind the rejection of the complainant’s application was due to her inability to fulfill these conditions.
The Commission, however, stated that the word ‘Designation’ was used in the note issued by the bank which in common terms either refers to the profession of a person or to the office held by the person in his organisation.
Further the Commission said, “No profession except impermissible by law is a negative profile”, adding that this amounted to 'corporate authoritarianism.’