To ensure that banks do not wash their hands of their customers’ locks, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to impose rules within six months authorizing bank action in respect of lock-in locks. A bench consisting of Judges M M Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran said with the advent of globalization, banking institutions have played a very important role in the life of the average person as domestic and international economic activities have expanded.
The Supreme Court said people are reluctant to keep their liquid assets at home as we move forward towards a cash-strapped economy.
Therefore, as evidenced by the increasing demand for such services, lockers have become an important service offered by all banking institutions. Those services are available to citizens and foreigners, the bench said. Also, due to the rapid acquisition of technology, we are now switching from two used technical townships, the high court said. In electric locks, even if a customer has limited access to the key with passwords or an ATM pin, etc., it is unlikely that they will have the technical know-how to control the operation of these townships, the bench said.
On the other hand, perpetrators may use the technology used in these programs to gain access to the locks without the knowledge or consent of the customer, he said. The high court said the customer was at the mercy of the bank, which is a strategic group, in protecting its assets.
In such a case, banks are unable to wash their hands and claim that they are not accountable to their customers for the operation of the locker room, he said. The bench stated that this is the purpose for which the customer uses the locker room to ensure that their goods are properly maintained.
Such actions by banks not only violate the relevant provisions of the Consumer Protection Act but can also damage investor confidence and tarnish our reputation as an emerging economy. It is, therefore, necessary for the RBI to set out detailed guidelines for the actions of banks in terms of the management of the lock / safe area, the court added, adding that banks should not be free to impose inconsistent and unfair regulations on consumers. In the same vein, we direct the RBI to issue the appropriate laws or regulations as outlined above within six months from the date of this decision, it said.
The bench also maintained that it was left open to the RBI to issue appropriate rules regarding the liability owed to banks for any loss or damage of lock content so that the issue of this issue could be clarified. The decision came after a complaint lodged by Kolkata resident Amitabha Dasgupta against the order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Dasgupta lodged a complaint with the Regional Consumer Forum seeking a way to the United Bank of India to return the seven ornaments that were on the key, or pay Rs 3 lakh depending on the cost of the jewelry, and compensation for the damage. The National Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission has acknowledged the State Commission’s findings that the Consumer Forum has limited jurisdiction over the reinstatement of content.