The revised guidelines will come into effect from January 1, 2022 . On Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed revised guidelines for services like deposit lockers, article facilities, and safe custody.
These guidelines will be relevant for both new and existing deposit lockers.
RBI has asked banks to maintain a mandatory branch-wise list of vacant lockers and a wait-list for allotting the safe deposit lockers.
The central bank took this step after considering the various departments in banking and technology, the nature of consumer grievances and principal feedback from multiple banks and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
The Central bank said that the new guidelines are published to facilitate the customers in making informed choices where “banks shall maintain a branch-wise list of vacant lockers as well as a wait-list in Core Banking System (CBS) or any other computerized system compliant with Cyber Security Framework issued by RBI,” for maintaining easy allotment of lockers and ensuring transparency in the allocation of lockers on this Wednesday.
Here are some of the essentials from the revised guidelines:
• The RBI has limited the liability of banks to 100 times its annual rent in case of fire, theft, fraud or building collapse by bank employees. This decision came after the Supreme Court held banks accountable earlier this year in February. At present, no banks offer any liability towards deposit lockers.
• Also, banks have been asked to incorporate a clause in their locker agreement forbidding the customers from keeping anything illicit or hazardous in their lockers. Further, banks will not be able to offer any products to their locker-hirers any insurance, ensuring the safekeeping of their content, no matter the circumstances.
• The banks can obtain a Term Deposit (TD) from their hirers at the time of allotment to deal with situations where the hirer refuses to operate or pay the rent. This TD would cover three years’ rent and the charges for breaking the locker in case of such an incident.
• Existing locker holders will not be asked or insisted on paying such term deposits, nor the bank will oblige them to pay any such amount.
• The guidelines mention the case when a locker rent is already collected in advance and a hirer surrenders the locker. The banks have to offer a proportionate amount of advance rent collected will be refunded to the customer.
• Banks have the authority to break open any deposit locker if the rent has not been paid by the hirer for three years successively.
• The elaborate board-approved policy is needed to be framed, highlighting the responsibilities owed by the banks for any loss or damage to the contents of the lockers due to their laxity.
• RBI also mentions that the banks shall not be liable to pay any damage or loss of the hirer’s content in the event of any natural calamity or Acts of God like floods, earthquakes, thunderstorms or lightning and that this will be attributed to the sole negligence of the customers.
However, the responsibility to protect their premises from such calamities and take appropriate measures to secure their whereabouts will fall upon the banks.