BGR had to handle another interesting complaint during his tenure at the JSC branch. The complaint had been lodged even before BGR had taken charge. The bank had the account of a High Court advocate. He gave a complaint that a local cheque for Rs6,000 deposited by him had not been credited to his account. He produced the counterfoil of the bank challan, which had the branch the branch seal with initials. The branch could not locate the cheque. It was also not possible to identify the staff who had put his initials on the counterfoil. The advocate wanted the amount to be credited to his account and was pursuing the matter.
BGR visited his residence in Jayanagar one day to collect the details of the cheque. However, the advocate told him that he does not have any details. BGR requested him at least to inform the name of the person who had issued the cheque, the cheque number and name of the bank. But the advocate repeated that he had none of the details and he simply wanted the bank to credit the amount to his account. BGR came back and addressed a letter to him requesting for the details. But the advocate gave the reply that he doesn’t possess any details and insisted for the credit as he had the initialed and sealed counterfoil!
The advocate took the case to the State Consumer Court and the branch received a notice to appear. BGR forwarded the notice to the Legal Department (R&L Section) and he was told that the case would be entrusted to the Bank’s advocate by them. BGR then gave the following inputs to the department:
- The depositor being a High Court advocate must be an income-tax payer.
- As an advocate he is supposed to maintain books of accounts and is obliged to furnish the details of the cheque to the bank
- It was possible that he would have collected the cash from his client telling him that the bank has misplaced the cheque. In that case it would be a double payment to him if the bank makes the payment.
- He could have also taken another cheque from the party after issuing a stop payment instruction for the misplaced cheque and encashed it through some other bank account.
- Being an advocate he should be definitely able to remember the name of his client. It is his moral responsibility to furnish the details to the bank and cooperate in the matter.
To the surprise of BGR, the Consumer Court upheld the case and asked the bank to pay the amount with interest. However, it did not ask the advocate to furnish the details of the cheque to the bank. The Circle Office then asked the branch to make the payment and fix the responsibility. BGR argued with the legal department that the bank had a good case and it should go to the National Consumer Forum in Delhi. The department agreed. The advocate at Delhi asked the branch to remit his hefty fee even before he took up the case. But again the bank lost the case. BGR’s assessment was that both the lawyers at Bangalore and Delhi did not argue the case properly and were more interested in collecting their fee! There appeared to be no seriousness on the part of the Legal department either! BGR left the branch at this stage. He came to know later that the bank could not fix the responsibility on any of the employees.
The Job Stress Leads to Health Problem
The Garden City Hospital was opened in III Block, Jayanagar in 1991, partly funded by NRIs. The hospital had good visiting doctors. One of them was Dr.Sudhir Pai, the neurologist. He wanted to conduct one health camp in Shopping Complex and wanted the branch to associate. BGR agreed and the camp went off successfully.
At JSC BGR was sandwiched between the “Yenu Prayojana Illa”, “Parkalaam” and “Chalta Hai” CM of the branch and a totally biased and hyper AGM of RO. He could not take forward the necessary changes and actions required for the improvement of the branch. He was working almost 12 hours in the branch with only about 45 minutes break to go home and have lunch and get back. Many retired Executives/Officers/friends used to visit the branch on Saturday evening and Sunday morning which used to be the busiest time of the week. They were observing the number of telephone calls BGR used to receive, number of clients coming to his cabin with their requests, complaints, etc.
One Sunday, a General Manager from HO came to BGR’s cabin to get some work done. He was astonished to see the rush and the pressure with which BGR was working. He frankly asked him why there was so much rush for which BGR told him that it was the only branch of Canara Bank working on Sunday and with shift hours. That was the reason for the rush/mess. The GM felt that it was high time for the branch to fall in line with other branches. BGR told him about the obstacle in the form of the Gandhian SR Prabhu. But the GM could not understand why the Bank is taking his threat so seriously. According to him, unlike in the pre-1969 era the Bank was now a Public Sector unit and it should not heed to the threat of a retired GM just because he was a Gandhian.
One evening at about 5.30 pm in February 1992, BGR was attending a customer at his cabin when he felt a sudden unbearable pain in the left forehead. BGR thought that it may subside after sometime. But the pain persisted and became unbearable. He then telephoned the Garden City Hospital and found that Dr.Sudhir Pai was available. BGR visited the hospital and Dr.Pai made the initial check up and enquired about his past service history. He prescribed some tablets and asked him to undergo some laboratory check up. The pain subsided and BGR came back to the branch.
The pain came back after two days. It persisted for more than half an hour and then subsided. BGR went back to the doctor on the third day along with the laboratory reports. The doctor examined him again and told him that the problem was due to accumulated stress over a period. According to the doctor, the persons who carry the accumulated stress are susceptible to such pain attacks that last for 30 to 45 minutes. He prescribed some more medicines and asked BGR to come back after a week. The pain came back twice during the week and BGR was just helpless and unable to work.
BGR visited Dr.Pai after a week. The doctor then reiterated that the problem was the accumulation of stress over a period of years. He referred to:
- The stressful work load at the JSC branch (The doctor had personally seen BGR’s work load while sitting in his cabin)
- Work pressure at six branches in the last 12 years
- The situation of helplessness in the last 18 months with no support to implement a programme to rectify the situation in the JSC branch
- BGR’s basic nature of having an urge to set right the things early - leading to build up of internal stress when the situation was unfavourable
The doctor advised BGR to take a change and go to an administrative unit to overcome the problem. BGR then realised that unless he takes a break he may spoil his health further.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
18th November 2012