Power of lawyer restricted to what’s granted Mumbai Information
Carl DeSouza had issued a general power of attorney and his father, Dr. DJ DeSouza named its constituent attorney. The father turned to the Bank of Baroda, Margao branch, to open a joint account with his son and to sign it on his son’s behalf. However, the bank refused to consider the power of attorney to open an account to be valid.
A consumer complaint has been filed with the South Goa District Commission asking the bank to open the account. The bank denied the case on the grounds that the power of attorney had not given the father the authority to open an account in the son’s name. The district commission upheld the bank’s allegation and dismissed the complaint, so the order was appealed.
The Goa State Commission relied on a Supreme Court decision that defined a power of attorney as an instrument or document executed to authorize a particular person (agent or constituted attorney) to act for and on behalf of the person that she executes. The agent could only exercise the powers assigned to him. It turned out that a power of attorney can give a person the right to buy a property without granting a right to sell.
In light of this interpretation, the State Commission found that the crux of the dispute was whether the general power of attorney gave the father the authority to open a bank account.
It was noted that the power of attorney made it possible to sign documents, letters, mutual funds and IPOs of public and private sector banks, as well as to pay insurance premiums. In the absence of a clause authorizing the father to open a bank account on behalf of the son, the state commission concluded that the bank was entitled to refuse to open an account.
On January 14, the Goa State Commission rejected DeSouza’s appeal. The father was advised to get a new power of attorney from his son instead of wasting time litigation.
(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Indian Government’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is [email protected])