The Reserve Bank of India last week came out with revised guidelines for the hiring of lockers under which the liability of banks will be limited to 100 times its annual rent in case of fire, theft, building collapse or frauds by bank employees. As per the revised guidelines, which shall come into effect from 1 January 2022, banks will be required to incorporate a clause in the locker agreement prohibiting the hirer from keeping anything illegal or hazardous in lockers.
The RBI said it has reviewed the ‘Deposit Locker/Safe Custody Article Facility provided by the banks’ after taking into consideration various developments in the area of banking and technology, nature of consumer grievances and also the feedback received from banks and Indian Banks’ Association. The review also takes into account, the principles enumerated by the Supreme Court in the ‘Amitabha Dasgupta vs United Bank of India’ case.
The revised instructions will be applicable to both new and existing safe deposit lockers and the safe custody of articles facility with the banks. The RBI said banks need to maintain a branch-wise list of vacant lockers as well as a waitlist in Core Banking System or any other computerised system compliant with Cyber Security Framework, for the purpose of allotment of lockers and ensure transparency in allotment.
The Reserve Bank of India directed banks to maintain a branch-wise list of vacant lockers as well as a wait-list for the purpose of allotment of lockers and ensure transparency in allotment of lockers.
The banks, the central bank said, shall acknowledge the receipt of all applications for allotment of locker and provide a wait list number to the customers, if the lockers are not available for allotment.
According to the new guidelines, the existing customers of a bank who have made an application for locker facility and who are fully compliant with the CDD (Customer Due Diligence) criteria may be given the facilities of safe deposit lockers/ safe custody article subject to on-going compliance.
Customers who are not having any other banking relationship with the bank may be given the facilities of safe deposit locker/safe custody article, it said.
The RBI said the banks shall have a Board approved policy for settlement of claims. It has also asked the banks to formulate policy for nomination and release of contents of safety lockers/safe custody article to the nominee and protection against notice of claims of other persons.
“In order to ensure that the articles left in safe custody and contents of lockers are returned to the genuine nominee, as also to verify the proof of death, banks shall devise their own claim formats, in terms of applicable laws and regulatory guidelines,” it said. Banks shall settle the claims and shall release contents of the locker to survivor(s) / nominee(s) within a period not exceeding 15 days from the date of receipt of the claim subject to the production of proof of death of the depositor, the RBI added.