Home / Industry / Banking /  What if your bank locker remains inoperative for a long period of time

NEW DELHI : Most of us keep our jewellery and other valuables in bank lockers thinking it to be safe than at home as the probability of theft is much higher at our homes compared to banks but do you know that banks can break open your locker if it remains inoperative for a long period of time.

The recently revised Reserve Bank India (RBI) guidelines regarding safe deposit lockers allow the banks to break open a locker if it remains inoperative for a longer period of time even if rent is being paid regularly.

Taking into consideration the 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 RBI recently revised its guidelines regarding safe deposit lockers and also gave new instructions to banks regarding inoperative bank lockers.

The revised RBI guidelines say the bank shall be at liberty to break open the lockers and transfer the contents of the locker to their nominees/legal heir or dispose of the articles in a transparent manner if it remains inoperative for a period of seven years and the locker-hirer cannot be located, even if rent is being paid regularly.

But at the same time safeguarding the public interest, the central bank also issued detailed instructions that to be followed before break opening any locker.

The RBI guidelines say the bank will give due notice to the locker-hirer through a letter and send email and SMS alert to the registered email id and mobile phone number. If the letter is returned undelivered or the locker-hirer is not traceable, the bank will issue public notice in two newspaper dailies (one in English and another in local language) giving reasonable time to the locker-hirer or to any other person/s who has an interest in the contents of the locker to respond. 

The central bank guidelines further said the locker should be broke open in the presence of an officer of the bank and two independent witnesses and the whole process should be video recorded. In case of electronically operated lockers (including Smart Vaults), the use of ‘vault administrator’ password for the opening of the locker shall be assigned to a senior official and a complete audit trail of access shall be preserved. 

The RBI further said after breaking open of locker, the contents shall be kept in a sealed envelope with detailed inventory inside a fireproof safe in a tamper-proof way until the customer claims it. A record of access to the fireproof safe shall invariably be maintained. While returning the contents of the locker, the bank shall obtain acknowledgment of the customer on the inventory list to avoid any dispute in future.

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