A consumer forum in Karnataka Wednesday imposed a fine of Rs 85,177 on the State Bank of India’s (SBI) Haliyal branch in Uttara Kannada for dishonouring a cheque written in Kannada, the official language of the state.
Vadirajacharya Inamdar, an English lecturer in a government pre-university college at Hubballi approached Dharwad District Consumer Redressal Forum after the bank rejected his cheque in 2020 and fined him Rs 177.
Forum president Ishappa Bhute, members V A Bolishetti and P C Hiremath, ordered the bank to pay the amount as compensation and fine to Inamdar.
Sharing the ordeal with Indian Express, Inamdar said: “I presented a cheque of Rs 6,000 to the SBI on September 3, 2020, and after a few days, I came to know that the cheque was rejected because I had written in Kannada. I had written Kannada numerals as well. The bank officials who do not know Kannada assumed the 9th month (September) as the 6th month (June) and imposed a fine worth Rs 177 on me.”
“As it was Covid-19 situation, I used the time to find out what the rule book says and after going through it, I approached the forum in January this year and filed a complaint,” he said.
Inamdar said many people across Karnataka face similar problems. The bank officials posted here treat people who know English as first-class citizens and ignore Kannada-speaking people. Despite not learning the language, they also harass rural people for not knowing English or Hindi.
Inamdar, though he teaches English, says the administrative language in the state is Kannada and that he always presented cheques in Kannada.
The decision in Inamdar’s complaint comes at an important juncture as many banks in Karnataka have failed to promote the use of regional languages under the trilingual policy. There have been multiple instances where bank officials have turned down customers, especially in rural areas, for not communicating in either English or Hindi.