Wednesday, December 10, 2008
That morning Sudheer had an unusual guest at home. It was Choma, the cowherd. It was after a long time that Choma was visiting the house. There was a time when he would visit the house daily to collect the cows and buffaloes for grazing. But two things had changed the life of Choma. The first one was that he had become a land lord. The land cultivated by him as tenant now vested with him as per the tenancy act passed by the Government. Secondly the system of cow grazing was no more in existence. Earlier each household would have a number of animals to be sent for daily grazing. But presently all the houses had only one or two cross breed cows, which would be reared in the cowsheds only. Thus the profession of a cowherd had become redundant.
After the usual offer of a cup of coffee, Sudheer asked Choma the reasons for his sudden visit. Choma told him that he had come to him to avail his service as an advocate! He had heard that Sudheer was practicing as an advocate. He was also aware that he had a very good practice, but was very considerate to his clients-particularly to the under-privileged. Choma had never thought that one day he may require his services. But now he had landed himself with a case for which he was least responsible. He started telling Sudheer how he was obliged to his father right from childhood. Sudheer asked him to come to the point directly without any formalities. Choma was happy to see the humility of Sudheer.
But when Choma came to the point directly, Sudheer was quite amused. Choma wanted Sudheer to file a suit against Indicate bank! Sudheer suddenly got a doubt whether Choma had a ‘drink’ right in the morning. But to his surprise he found Choma quite conscious and very clear about what he was telling. As per him he was cheated by the bank; he wanted Sudheer to file a suit to recover his deposit amount and also teach a suitable lesson to the bank. Sudheer asked him to explain to him clearly what went wrong between him and the bank.
Choma’s case went like this. He was not new to the Indicate Bank. As per him, he had a very bad experience with the bank even earlier. One year back, he had approached it for a housing loan. But he found the bank turning down his request on a flimsy ground. While the Manager dismissed his proposal off hand, Choma had overheard him telling the Accountant, “Ayeg Erme kattyara apuji” (he cannot rare a buffalo!). Choma could not really make out the connection between his housing loan proposal and his incapacity to rear a buffalo! In fact he tried to tell the manager that he was a cowherd by birth and knew exactly how to rear a buffalo! But the manager was in no mood to hear him and just sent him away.
Choma was actually in need of a loan of Rs25,000/ at that time to finish the construction of his small house. After the rejection of his proposal by the bank he came to know that the Government was extending subsidy to weaker section people like him for house construction. He submitted his application and got a subsidy sanctioned for Rs25,000/=. By the time the amount was received, Choma had already finished the construction of his house from his own funds.
Choma went to deposit the subsidy cheque in the same Indicate Bank. He was asked to open a bank account. When the manager asked him if he knew how to sign, Choma proudly told him that he could. Actually he was a total illiterate and could neither read nor write. But he had attended a Sakshratha (literacy) campaign week held by the social welfare department where he was taught how to put his signature in Kannada. He found the bank very reluctant to open his account. The Manager asked him to bring a suitable introduction.
Choma was loitering in the bank with the cheque in his hand, when a bank peon, by name Monappa, saw him. Monappa asked Choma what was his problem. Choma showed him the cheque and requested him to help out. Monappa appeared to be a very kind and helpful soul. He filled up all the forms and asked Choma to sign them. Choma signed all of them by writing his name in Kannada, as taught to him, with great difficulty. It took a long time for him to put each signature. Ultimately Monappa managed to get Choma’s account opened by obtaining introduction of one of the customers known to him. Choma had to submit a copy of his ration card and two photographs for the purpose. Choma deposited the cheque and was asked to come after two days to draw the amount.
Choma went to the bank again after a week. Monappa gave him the passbook. Choma wanted to draw Rs.10,000/. He was issued a withdrawal slip. With the help of Monappa he got the same filled up and put his signature. He collected the cash from the cashier. He was given back the passbook showing the balance as Rs15,100/. He kept the pass book safely in his possession at home. As he was not in need of money he did not turn up at the bank for nearly a year. He thought his money was lying safely in the Indicate bank.
One fine morning Choma was in need of money for purchase of fertilizers for his paddy crop. He took out his passbook and went to the bank. He could not find Monappa at the bank. Choma was told that he had been promoted as a clerk and transferred. Choma found himself helpless. With the help of a customer at the counter he got a withdrawal slip filled up for Rs5.000/ and tendered it at the counter along with the passbook.
Choma got a shock of his life when he was told by the clerk that the balance in his account was only Rs100/. He asked the clerk as to what happened to his Rs15,000/. He was told that he had already withdrawn it. Choma informed him that he had never come to the bank after withdrawing Rs10,000/. But the clerk just repeated that the amount had already been withdrawn by him about two months back. Choma was virtually in tears. He went to the bank manager with his passbook. But he was of little help. He merely sent him away by stating that since the withdrawal slip had his signature it was presumed that he had withdrawn the money.
Choma ended the story here and requested Sudheer to help him out. He not only wanted his money back but wanted Sudheer to file a cheating case against the bank to teach them a suitable lesson. Sudheer could make out now that Choma was telling the truth and had a clear cut case against the bank. He collected the passbook and the withdrawal slip (for Rs5,000/ which was denied payment by the bank) from Choma. He wrote a letter to the bank manager in Choma’s name to issue a Xerox copy of the withdrawal slip against which the bank had paid Rs15,000/. He asked Choma to visit the bank and collect the Xerox. He also told him to meet him at his office in the evening with the Xerox copy.
Choma promptly met Sudheer at his office on the next day. He gave him the Xerox copy of the slip he had collected from the bank. He once again requested Sudheer to teach the bank a proper lesson. Sudheer discussed his case with an official of another bank, who was with him as a client at that time. The Official was amused by Choma’s vociferous attitude towards the bank officials. Sudheer told him that the indicate Bank had earlier rejected Choma’s housing loan proposal with the flimsy reason that he did not know how to rear a buffalo. The colleague could not first understand what exactly Choma had been told by the manager. But when Choma repeated his version he could not stop laughing. He explained to Sudheer that the manager was only telling his Accountant that Choma could not pay the ‘EMI’ for the loan if sanctioned (“Ayeg EMI kattyara apuji”)! Choma had heard EMI as Erme!
Sudheer drafted a legal notice to the bank and told Choma to come after two weeks as he had to first receive reply from the bank for the notice. Once Choma left, he compared the signature in the Xerox copy given by the bank and the original withdrawal slip for Rs5,000/ signed by Choma himself. He could make out from his naked eyes that the signature of Choma had been forged. The difference was too apparent to escape the notice of the bank.
Sudheer then went through the passbook entries. He discovered one major discrepancy. He found that the withdrawal slip carried the date 3rd April 2007 while the passbook showed the withdrawal date as 10th September 2007. He could conclude that it was some ‘insider job’ at the bank. He decided to wait for the reply from the bank.
The bank was very prompt in replying the notice. It had merely stated that Choma had withdrawn the amount on 3rd April 2007 and his signature tallied with the specimen signature lodged with the bank. It had rejected the request of Choma to reimburse the amount as sought in the notice. Sudheer prepared a plaint immediately and sent a message to Choma to call on him. In due course a suit was filed in the civil court.
The case would have taken its own time to come up for hearing. But Sudheer could convince the Judge that the plaintiff belonged to the weaker section and he had been cheated by the bank. Hence the case came up for hearing fast.
On the day of hearing at the Civil Judge Court, Puttur:
(The Judge arrives and the court comes to the order. The clerk calls the case-Mr.choma v/s Indicate Bank, Puttur. The bank is represented by Mr. Pai, the Manager and Mr. Bhat, bank’s advocate. Choma was present with his advocate Sudheer. The judge asks Sudheer to proceed with the case. He calls Choma to the witness box. The proceedings start :)
Sudheer (Speaks in Kannada): Choma, please take the oath. You have filed this case against the bank. Have you been explained the contents of the plaint in Kannada and have you signed it after understanding it in full? Do you say that whatever stated therein is true to the best of your knowledge?
Choma (Speaks partly in Kannada and partly in Tulu): Yes. I have been explained and I have understood fully the contents of the plaint. They are true to the best of my knowledge.
Sudhir: Are you a literate? Do you know reading and writing in Kannada or any other language?
Choma: I am an illiterate. I only know how to put my signature in Kannada, which was taught to me during a Sakshratha campaign of the Government.
Sudheer (exhibits a Xerox copy of the withdrawal slip for Rs15,000/: given by the bank): Is this your signature? Did you remember to have visited the bank either on 3rd April or 10th September 2007?
Choma: It is not my signature. I had not visited the bank on both the dates.
Sudheer: You can go now. (Turning to the judge) May I now examine the bank manager?
Judge: You may proceed.
(Mr. Pai, the manager comes to the witness box and takes oath)
Sudheer: Mr.Pai, do you know the plaintiff Choma?
Manager: Yes I know him.
Sudheer: Did you know that he was an illiterate and only could put his signature?
Sudheer: The banks are expected to follow certain special guidelines in respect of illiterate accounts. Can you tell me what those guidelines are?
Manager: We will not issue cheque books. The depositor has to personally visit the bank and withdrawals are allowed only through withdrawal slips accompanied by passbook. Thumb impressions are to be affixed in front of the bank officer only. The officer has to verify the photo graph each time and then only authorize payments.
Sudheer: Did your bank follow these guidelines in the present case? If not, why?
Manager: We had not issued the cheque book. Other guidelines were not made applicable as the depositor was treated as literate as he could put his signature.
Sudheer: You knew that Choma could only sign with great difficulty as he was an illiterate. Such accounts are naturally susceptible for fraud. It would have been prudent on your part to treat the account as an illiterate account and exercise caution. Do you agree?
Manager: I have nothing to say.
Sudheer: The withdrawal slip is dated 3rd April 2007, but the pass book shows the withdrawal date as 10th September 2007. What do you have to say on this discrepancy?
Manager: I am not able to say anything on this matter right now.
Sudheer: Do you agree that the plaintiff has a valid case against the bank as the signatures do not tally and the bank had not exercised necessary caution?
Manager: I disagree.
Sudheer: (Turning towards the judge). May I sum up the case now?
Judge: you may proceed.
Sudheer: The honorable court may note that the plaintiff is an illiterate person belonging to the weaker section. He only knew how to put his signature. Such accounts are susceptible for fraud. The bank was aware of this. But they have not exercised caution and followed the guidelines prescribed for an illiterate account. The signature in the withdrawal slip does not tally with the plaintiff’s signature. The date on the withdrawal slip and the date of withdrawal in the pass book do not agree. All this prove that the bank has not exercised sufficient care. This has resulted in fraudulent withdrawal from the account. The court may kindly order the bank to reimburse the full amount with interest and cost. That is all, my Lord.
Judge: Does the bank’s advocate have anything to say in the matter?
Bhat: The bank may be provided some time to clarify the points raised by the plaintiff’s advocate.
Judge: The case stands adjourned.
Mr. Pai, the manager of Indicate bank was a busy man that week. He reported Choma’s case as a fraud case to the Zonal Office. An Officer arrived from Zonal Office and conducted a detailed investigation. It was found that the payment of Choma’s cheque had been made on 3rd April 2007 only. The Bank was implementing core banking and due to technical problems the cheques could not be posted to the accounts on 3rd and 4th April. After posting the cheques later there was a difference in the accounts. The same was traced to the cheque of Choma only on 10 September. The cheque was posted to the account only on that date. The forged cheque had been encashed in the confusion prevailing on 3rd April. The cheque had been paid by the cashier without authorization. On enquiry by the investigating Officer, the cashier admitted his crime. He had used the illiterate Choma’s account to draw money fraudulently.
The Head Office of Indicate Bank issued a circular asking all the branches to treat the accounts as illiterate accounts if the depositor knew only to sign. The bank credited the money to Choma’s account with interest. It also informed the court through the advocate that it had settled the payment. The court dismissed the case awarding cost to the plaintiff Choma.
That morning Choma called on Sudheer. He left the place after having his coffee and breakfast and thanking him profusely. Another case of Sudheer had come to a happy end.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
My husband gave me some suggestions on how to handle gridlock traffic. "Listen to your favorite songs or listen to radio salam namaste" he says. Good suggestion and probably I would suggest the same to other long commuters too. But that’s not the case with me. I am frustrated, cursing all slow going cars, over taking, and trying to reach early. And the funny part is that there is no urgency to reach early. I will have ample of time to reach on time but yet I am in a hurry to reach early. I cannot withstand slow moving vehicles especially the ones who are going below the speed limit for no reason.
Then, on one fine evening after leaving work, an epiphany explodes in my mind. I realized in that fine moment that all the drivers in their vehicles are driving according to their own individual personalities. I am fast in everything I do from everyday chore like cooking to cleaning and now it shows in my driving too. Fast driving is my personality. Don’t get me wrong here. I respect and follow driving law. I will never ever go insanely fast, disregarding other drivers and jeopardizing precious life on road. It’s just that I am a fast person and slow irritates me.
Anyway, I wanted to experiment with my theory. Does a person’s driving reveal their personality? Ever since this question popped up in my mind, I am observing and analyzing all drivers who share my direction to work. Every day I get to see different drivers and everyday is something different to learn about human psychology. I see female drivers who put on makeup while driving; I see young drivers aged 18 to 25 with high volume rap music; I see drivers in lot of hurry; I see drivers who have all the time in this world; I see drivers who are too busy to eat breakfast at home and eat in their car; I see driver who are elderly and in no rush.
As far as my fast attitude driving is concerned, I’ve changed my ways now. Even though fast is in my blood, driving on public road is definitely no place to display it. I get to meet slow drivers, very fast drivers, obnoxious and rude drivers, young and elderly drivers on my way to work. I have learnt to respect every one of them and reach my destination safe. All thanks to my husband who made me realize this. It was just three days ago when we were driving somewhere and I came across a vehicle that was going very slow. I complained my husband on how slow the vehicle is going. He responded saying “you don’t know what condition they are in. Just pass and go.” To my shock it was a very old lady probably 80 years old or even older driving that car. My heart sank.
Commute these days is much calmer from my side. I drive with highest respect to my co-drivers. I am yielding and pass slow goers without frown on my face. I may never know what condition or situation they are in. All I can do is understand and drive. Drive safe y’ll.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Anyway, I cannot believe Granny is 80 years young. Her kids are performing “Pawana Shanti” on this occasion. I don’t know anything about this shanti. I searched to find out more about it online but of no use. I wish I would witness all the rituals of this function. Granny is the only person in the family to reach 80 years and I pray she will reach many more wonderful healthy years ahead. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA and I will truly miss your Big Day.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Keshava could not sleep that night. He was feeling miserable. He had never thought that he would be landing in this position one day. As his elder brother was quite well off in the city, he never thought that his family would seek the family partition. He was aware that his parents had spent considerable amount for the education of his elder brother; whereas he himself had devoted all his time and energy for the family agricultural land. In fact he had to toil hard to maintain his family all the time. In spite of that sacrifice the family income was just sufficient for its maintenance. The partition of property would call for splitting the land which was just an unviable proposition. Keshava was also not in a position to pay the cash compensation in-lieu of the property as he had no savings on account of the continuously falling arecanut prices.
Nittur was a small village on the banks of the river Netravathi in the erstwhile
Vamana continued his studies in the city. As he was a brilliant student, he had no difficulty in successfully completing his education. After his graduation he completed his Chartered Accountancy. Within a short time he established a very good practice. His parents were very happy for him. In spite of his successful career both in education and profession, Vamana was quite unassuming in his nature. He had been brought up in a very good family atmosphere and it reflected in all his dealings.
His parents were in search of a good girl for their beloved son. In the meanwhile Vamana was approached by one of his clients with a proposal of their daughter. In the course of their professional dealings, the client was very much impressed with the personality and caliber of Vamana. Vamana had also become very close to the family. He had, on several occasions, seen their only daughter Smitha at their home. Smitha was a beautiful girl with lovable features. She had completed her graduation just then.
Vamana asked his client to approach his parents. They were pleased to take it as his indirect consent. Mukund Rao couple had basically no objection, even though heart of heart, they would have preferred a girl from the village background. They had some reservations for a city- bred girl. But finding the willingness of their beloved son, they gave their consent for the proposal. The marriage was held in the city and the couple was quite pleased by the way Smitha’s parents conducted it. Soon after the marriage Vamana set up his family in the city.
Vamana was very particular to have his own house in the city early. He was on the look out for a suitable site. He was allotted a site by the City Development authority. He had to pay an amount of rupees twenty thousand to get it registered in his name. As he had spent all his savings for his marriage expenses, he had no means to pay it. He told his father about it. He came to his rescue. He had saved some money from out of his limited agricultural income. He was pleased to help his son to secure a site in the city. Keshava also had no objections for his father helping his elder brother. The entire cost of the site, rupees twenty thousand, was paid by Mukund Rao. Vamana got a bank loan sanctioned and constructed a big building to serve as both his office and residence. Even though Vamana‘s earnings shot up in due course, he never paid back his father; Neither his father asked him to pay. Keshava never interfered in his father’s financial affairs. He restricted himself to looking after the agricultural lands.
Keshava’s marriage was held with a girl from a nearby village after some years. The marriage expenses were met by his father only. Even though Vamana could have contributed, he never showed any inclination. However he used to attend all family functions and festivals at home with his wife and children. The family members maintained cordial relations all the time.
Much water has flown down the Netravathi since then. More than twenty five years have passed. The Mukund Rao couple had passed away in a span of one year on account of old age. The family had lost the two acres of paddy growing land to the tenants under the tenancy act. Keshava’ only son had also joined him in his agricultural profession. The family income was just sufficient to meet their daily needs. The fall in arecanut prices had resulted in reduced incomes for the cultivators. After the death of parents Vamana had stopped visiting his parental home. Keshava was aware that his brother had become a big shot in the city. He had a highly successful business practice. He never bothered to enquire the financial state of his brother. The two families slowly lost touch completely.
One morning Keshava received a telephone call from
There was no communication between the families for nearly a year. But Keshava was shocked to receive a court summons one fine morning. It had come from the Civil Magistrate Court of Mangalore. Keshava and his son with their limited knowledge of English made out that Smitha, his sister-in-law, had filed suit in the court against him seeking family partition. It was stated in the summons that Vamana’s family was entitled to fifty percent share of the property under the Hindu Law. Keshava had been asked to appear before the court.
As he got up in the morning Keshava remembered his close friend and class mate Sudhir. He was not in touch with him for quite some time. He had heard that Sudhir was practicing as an advocate in the
Sudhir was very happy to meet his old friend after a very long time. Both of them recollected their good old student days, when they had no earthly responsibilities to carry. The position was quite different now. Getting back to the official matter, Keshava told Sudhir all about his case involving his sister-in-law. He explained to Sudhir how he was not in a position to part with half of his lands as demanded by his sister-in-law. Sudhir heard him in detail patiently and also went through the court summons. He told Keshava that on the face of it, he had no way to avoid the partition, as his sister-in-law had a rightful share as the legal heir of her husband as per the Hindu Law. He also told Keshava, the fact that she was well off, had nothing to do with the matter as her husband’s assets were swayarjitha (self earned). He asked Keshava to call on him again with all the property documents in his possession and took his signature on the Vakalath form to enable him to represent him in the court. He also advised him not to worry too much on the matter and he would help him in the best way possible.
That night Keshava could not sleep well. He went on thinking as to what would happen if ultimately he was made to part with half of his land or pay equivalent cash compensation. He was particularly worried about his son who had to survive on the income of half the land or alternatively carry a loan on his head.
In the morning he searched for land records at home. He could find out an old trunk where his father had kept all the records. Among the records he could also find a bank pass book in his father’s name. He had so far never bothered to find out whether his father had kept some money in the bank. He kept all the documents including the pass book in a folder and carried the same to his friend’s office on the next day.
Sudhir went through all the records leisurely. When he opened the bank pass book a small voucher slipped out from the book. He scrutinized it carefully. It was the counterfoil of a bank draft challan issued by the bank. He could find out that the same was nearly thirty years old. The draft had been purchased on
He asked Keshava whether he knew anything about this draft. Keshava clearly remembered that it was sent to Vamana by his father for registering the site in his name. He also told Sudhir that the site was situated in a prominent commercial locality and his brother had constructed his office and residence on it. Sudhir also got it clarified from him that the full cost of the site at that time was rupees twenty thousand only. He told Keshava not to worry any more and to come back on the day of court hearing.
Ten days later, on the day of hearing at the
(The Judge arrives and the court comes to the order. The clerk calls the case-Smt.Smitha & family against Sri Keshava & family. Smitha is present with her lawyer, Mr. Bhat. Keshava has already been briefed by Sudhir. The judge asks Mr. Bhat to proceed with the case. He calls Smitha to the witness box. The proceedings start :)
Bhat: please take the oath. You have filed this case against Keshava for family partition. Have you gone through the plaint in full? Do you say that whatever stated therein is true to the best of your knowledge?
Smitha: Yes. I have gone through the plaint and the contents are true to the best of my knowledge.
Bhat: The plaintiff has asked for the family partition. The details of the family property are furnished in the plaint. As per Hindu law she is entitled for half of the share in the family property. The court may please order accordingly. That is all my Lord.
Judge: Sudhir, you may call the defendant.
Sudhir: Yes my Lord. (Calls Keshava to the witness box)
Sudhir: Keshava, have you gone through the plaint? Do you have anything to say in the matter?
Keshava: Yes. I have gone through the plaint and agree with what is stated therein. I have only one thing to say.
Sudhir: What is it?
Keshava: The family property is not fully covered in the schedule. I request that the entire property of the family may be added to ensure that the partition is just and complete.
Sudhir (looking at the Judge and Mr. Bhat): I think the defendant is justified in seeking for the full property to be partitioned. Does the plaintiff have any objection in the matter?
Judge (laughs): Keshava appears to be a thorough gentleman. He is offering more than what is prayed for in the plaint! Mr. Bhat, any objections?
(Bhat Smilingly consults Smitha, who is also amused and conveys her consent to him):
Bhat: My client has absolutely no objections, my Lord!
Sudhir: This point may be noted my Lord. Can you tell me Keshava, in brief, what are those properties which have been left out and which you want to be included now?
Keshava: I am talking about only one property, presently in the possession of the plaintiff and which belongs to the family!
(The amusement goes away from the face of Smitha and Bhat! They look at each other with concern. The Judge is amused now!)
Sudhir: Can you tell me what is that property and how does it belong to the family?
Keshava: I am referring to the building in
Bhat (intervening): Objection, my Lord! The defendant is unnecessarily claiming the property which is owned by his brother and built out of his earnings.
Judge: Objection sustained. Sudhir, you may proceed.
Sudhir: Keshava, How do you claim that the property belongs to the joint family?
Keshava: The site on which the building was constructed was purchased out of joint family income.
Sudhir: Do you have any proof for your claim?
Keshava: Yes. Here it is.
(Hands over a voucher and a pass book. Sudhir goes through them and presents the same to the Judge)
Sudhir: Ok Keshava, You can go now. (Looking at the judge) May I proceed now?
Judge: please proceed.
Sudhir: Sir, the site in
Judge: Mr. Bhat, what do you want to say in the matter?
Bhat (still trying to recover from the shock): I seek some time for my client to look into the matter.
Judge: The case stands adjourned.
It is nearly a month since the court hearing. Sudhir got a communication from Bhat stating that his client wants to withdraw her plaint and close the issue. He told Keshava to discuss with his wife and son whether they are agreeable to forego their rightful claim on the
A little background on Sudhir in A V Krishnamurthy's words :-
Last month I had been to my brother-in-law's place near Mangalore.
His son (Sudhir) is practicing as a lawyer. He told me about an interesting case involving Hindu Law. I have based my above story on the provisions of the said law, which many are not aware. The story is purely creative and has no connection with the case referred to by Sudhir to me.
I have seen Sudhir right from the days of his boyhood. He has grown up to become a highly successful multi-tasking young man.
It may be interesting to know the type of multi-tasking he does:
- He looks after his agricultural lands.
- He practices as a successful advocate in the town.
- He is a lecturer in the college and teaches law.
- He has to look after his aged parents.
- His father has four brothers and five sisters; he has to take care of them when they and their extended families visit the house. He has to do the similar activity for his sister's family.
- He has to take care of his own family- a lovely wife, a smart son and a cute daughter.
The town is at a distance of 8 kms and he has to travel daily.
Sudhir does all this and much more with not even a frown on his face!
Hats off to this wonderful young man!
This story is dedicated to him.