Banks can now break open lockers not used for over a year

In view of growing security threats, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today issued fresh guidelines, permitting banks to break open a locker if it is not operated for over a year.

"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," stated the new guideline, issued in the wake of the discovery of explosives and weapons in a locker.

Before opening a locker, the bank will, however, have to give notice to the customer seeking an explanation why it has not been opened for more than a year. Banks have been instructed by the RBI to insert a clause of this note in the locker agreement.

The RBI has asked banks to follow the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines strictly before allotting lockers. It has asked the banks to contact the locker hirers, who have not operated the lockers for one year (in case of high-risk customers) or three years (in case of medium-risk customers), to either operate the locker or surrender it.

Banks have also been told to refrain from insisting on fixed deposits beyond the permitted limit for issuing lockers. Banks, however, may obtain a fixed deposit at the time of the allotment of lockers to cover three years rent and charges for breaking open the locker in case of an eventuality, the RBI guidelines said.

The RBI has asked bankers to maintain a wait-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 wait-list number. The RBI asked banks to adhere to the KYC norms in respect of nominees too.

Bankers have also been told 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.

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