Many of us hand over our debit cards to our spouse or a close relative to withdraw money from ATMs on our behalf. But it could be very costly for you. In Bengaluru, a woman who was on the maternity leave, recently learnt this lesson the hard way.

Banking rules mandatorily state that an ATM card is non-transferable and no other person apart from the account holder should use it.

Vandana, a resident of Marathahalli, on November 14, 2013, gave her debit card with the PIN to her husband. Her husband, Rajesh Kumar, withdraw Rs 25,000 from a local SBI ATM. He swiped the card; the machine delivered a slip showing that the money had been debited, but the amount never emerged from the machine. After that, when Vandana claimed the money from the bank, SBI quoted the ‘non-transferable’ rule and said that the account holder was not the ATM user and turned down her money claim.

On October 21, 2014, Vandana approached the Bangalore IVth Additional District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. She alleged that SBI had failed to refund the Rs 25,000 she’d lost in the ATM transaction. She said she could not move because she had just given birth. So, she had asked her husband to draw the money on her behalf.

Rajesh called the SBI call centre when the ATM did not release the money. He called them to inform that it was an ATM fault and the money would be returned to the account within 24 hours. After a day passed and they still did not get the money refund, Rajesh formally registered a complaint with the bank’s Helicopter Division branch at HAL. They were shocked a couple of days later to learn that SBI allegedly had closed the case stating that the transaction was correct. The customer had in fact got the money.

The couple acquired CCTV footage to prove that the ATM machine did not release the money. The footage showed that Rajesh was using the machine, but no cash being handed out of the machine. They further lodged a complaint with the bank. The bank made a committee to investigate this matter. The team found that Vandana, the cardholder, was not seen in the footage.

Vandana made use RTI to get information about whether there was money in the ATM machine that particular day. She also obtained a cash verification report of the ATM for November 16, 2013. The report showed excess cash of Rs 25,000 in the machine. SBI counsel later argued against it in the court and they produced a report showing existence of no excess cash.

The couple made a final plea to the bank before going the consumer forum but the bank simply ruled their plea by saying, ‘PIN shared, case closed.’

Vandana and SBI stands on their stand point. On one hand, while Vandana claimed that SBI should refund her money which was lost due to an ATM flaw, on the other hand, the bank stood its ground, mentioning that the rule that sharing ATM PIN with someone else was a violation of banking laws. The bank also submitted documents, including log records. All documents showed that the ATM transaction was successful and technically correct. The case went on for over three-and-a-half years.

On May 29, 2018 Court said that Vandana should have given a self-cheque or an authorisation letter to her husband for withdrawal of Rs 25,000, instead sharing the PIN and making him withdraw the money. The court dismissed the case.

(Adapted from