Most of us use bank lockers these days to keep our valuables safe such as jewellery, papers related to a property etc. In any case a bank locker is safe as compare to our home where the risk of getting things steal is higher. However, according to Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) new rule, the bank can now break your locker, if you haven't used it for a long time.
RBI's new guidelines regarding bank lockers
As per the new guidelines which came into effect from January 1, 2022, banks will now need to add a clause in the locker agreement which will prohibits the hirer from keeping anything illegal or hazardous in lockers.
The revised guidelines will be applicable to both existing and new safe deposit lockers and the safe custody of articles facility with the banks.
When banks can break your locker?
The banker's bank in its new rule has allowed the banks to break the locker if the same has not been used for a long time such 7 years. It doesn't matter whether you are paying the rent for the locker on time. After breaking the locker, the banks will transfer the stuffs to its nominee/legal heir or they can dispose of the items. However, in public interest, RBI has also issued detailed instructions which should be followed before breaking any locker.
Apart from the safety rules in India, the RBI in its new guidelines has also asked banks to look into issues such as:
Wait List of Lockers
Branches should maintain a wait list for the purpose of allotment of lockers and ensure transparency in allotment of lockers. All applications received for allotment of locker should be acknowledged and given a wait list number. Banks are also advised to give a copy of the agreement regarding operation of the locker to the locker-hirer at the time of allotment of the locker.
Operations of Safe Deposit Vaults/Lockers
Banks should exercise due care and necessary precaution for the protection of the lockers provided to the customer. Banks should review the systems in force for operation of safe deposit vaults / locker at their branches on an on-going basis and take necessary steps. The security procedures should be well-documented and the concerned staff should be properly trained in the procedure. The internal auditors should ensure that the procedures are strictly adhered to.
Fixed Deposit as Security for Lockers
Banks may face situations where the locker-hirer neither operates the locker nor pays rent. To ensure prompt payment of locker rent, banks may at the time of allotment, obtain a Fixed Deposit which would cover 3 years rent and the charges for breaking open the locker in case of an eventuality. However, banks should not insist on such Fixed Deposit from the existing locker-hirers.
Locker Opening Guidelines
The guidelines further instruct that the locker should be opened in the presence of an official of the bank and two independent witnesses and the entire process should be video-recorded. RBI further said that after the locker is opened, the contents shall be kept in a sealed envelope with detailed inventory inside a fireproof safe in a tamper proof manner till claimed by the customer.