Vodafone was on Thursday directed to pay Rs 4.5 lakh to a Mulund resident who fell victim to cybercrime in 2013 after a duplicate of his SIM card was allegedly issued to another person.
Chandrakant Soni, the complainant, said that he had a savings account with a private bank and that his Vodafone mobile number was registered to receive alerts for transactions on this account.
His advocate Prashant Mali, told the adjudicating officer of Maharashtra’s Directorate of Information Technology that on November 25, 2013 he had approached the telecom company with a complaint of poor connectivity. The company, he said, informed him that the service was active from their end. On November 27, Soni approached a Vodafone gallery at Churchgate where he was given a new SIM card after providing a copy of his PAN card.
Two days later, he noticed two transactions amounting to Rs 4.5 lakh on November 25 made without his knowledge to two accounts, the complainant alleged.
Soni, informed the court that he did not receive any SMS informing him about the transaction. On checking with Vodafone, he was informed that a duplicate SIM card had been issued on his number on November 24 from the Santacruz gallery. An FIR was subsequently registered by the Mulund police following which the accused were arrested.
Following this the complainant approached the adjudicating officer against his bank and the mobile service provider. The complainant’s bank, one of the respondents in the case said that they had followed due procedure and that it was Vodafone that had violate norms of security while issuing the SIM card to a stranger.
Vodafone argued that the person who got the duplicate SIM card had produced a PAN card. After hearings were conducted, the adjudicating officer in his order remarked, “…the signature in the original documents submitted by the complainant and the ones submitted by the alleged fraudster do not match. They (Vodafone) didn’t even check if the number was in use and active or not. Vodafone has not been able to produce a proof for the SMS they claim to have sent to the number of the complainant for change of SIM card.”
The order went on to say, “ …because of the negligence of the KYC norms and telecom guidelines by respondent no 3 (Vodafone Essar) the money transfer was facilitated and as a consequence, a loss of Rs 4.5 lakh was caused to the complainant.” The officer then directed that the complainant be compensated Rs 4.5 lakh by Vodafone Essar within one month of the receipt of the order.
Vodafone Essar was not available for a comment.
Mali said, “This is a 2014 matter and as per The IT Act, 2000 the Adjudication Officer has to decide the matters before him in 6 months. I feel justice is delayed and the delayed justice would have been good if atleast the money was told to be returned with interests and cost. Returning only actual losses makes justice a costly affair for the complainants. Adjudication officer should have ordered to pay the money first and then appeal as the history has shown banks and telecom don’t pay and appeal the matter and the appeal takes another 2-3 years causing grave financial issues to the innocent complainant.”