Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued fresh guidelines on 17 April, permitting banks to break open lockers that were unoperated for more than one year. These guidelines are aimed at tackling rising security threats.
“In case the locker remains unoperated for more than one year, the bank would have the right to cancel the allotment of the locker and open the locker, even if the rent is paid regularly,” said the RBI guidelines, issued in the wake of an incident in which explosives and weapons were found in a locker.
Before opening the locker, the bank will have to give a notice to the customer asking the reason for not operating the locker. RBI, India’s central bank, has asked banks to insert a clause to this effect in the locker agreement.
It has also asked the banks to follow the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines strictly before allotting lockers. Banks are to contact high-risk customers if they have not operated the lockers for one year and medium-risk customers if they haven’t done so for three years. The customers would be asked to either operate the locker or surrender it.
RBI also asked banks not to insist on fixed deposits beyond the permitted limit for issuing lockers. The banks, however, may obtain a fixed deposit at the time of the allotment of locker to cover three years’ rent and charges for breaking open the locker in case of an eventuality, the RBI guidelines said.
To further streamline the procedure, RBI has asked bankers to maintain a waiting list for allotment of lockers and maintain transparency in the procedure. It also asked them to acknowledge all applications received for opening lockers and give a waiting-list number to customers.
RBI asked banks to adhere to the KYC norms in respect to the nominees also.
Bankers are not to ask for any type of succession certificate or indemnity bond from the survivor or the nominees in case of the death of a locker-hirer for giving them access to the lockers.
In cases where the deceased locker hirer had not made any nomination, banks should adopt a customer-friendly approach and give legal heirs access to the deceased’s locker.
A similar procedure should be adopted for the articles under safe custody of the bank, the guideline said.
RBI has advised the Indian Banks’ Association to formulate a simple model operational procedure for settlement of claims of the deceased locker-hirer.