Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the regulator of finance and banking sector in India. The Banking Regulation Act, 1939 and Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 are the primary legislations that deal with the banking sector. Both these legislations have provisions which aim at protecting the consumers’ interests. Apart from these two legislations, RBI has issued various regulations and circulars which specifically deal with the protection of consumers. RBI has also come out with several schemes like Banking Ombudsman scheme which aim at strengthening the consumer protection measures.
Banking Ombudsman Scheme
The Reserve Bank of India announced the revised Banking Ombudsman Scheme with enlarged scope to include customer complaints on certain new areas, such as, credit card complaints, deficiencies in providing the promised services even by banks’ sales agents, levying service charges without prior notice to the customer and non adherence to the fair practices code as adopted by individual banks. Applicable to all commercial banks, regional rural banks and scheduled primary cooperative banks having business in India, the revised scheme will come into effect from January 1, 2006.
The Reserve Bank had first introduced the Banking Ombudsman Scheme in 1995 to provide expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of their complaints relating to deficiency in banking services. The Scheme was revised in 2002 mainly to cover Regional Rural Banks and to permit review of the Banking Ombudsmens’ awards against banks by the Reserve Bank. The Banking Ombudsmen currently have their offices in 15 centres
The new scheme provides a forum to bank customers to seek redressal of their most common complaints against banks, including those relating to credit cards, service charges, promises given by the sales agents of banks, but not kept by banks, as also, delays in delivery of bank services. The bank customers would now be able to complain about non-payment or any inordinate delay in payments or collection of cheques towards bills or remittances by banks, as also non-acceptance of small denomination notes and coins or charging of commission for acceptance of small denomination notes and coins by banks.
Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006
The Reserve Bank of India again has widened the scope of its Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006, to include deficiencies arising out of internet banking. Under the amended Scheme, a customer would also be able to lodge a complaint against the bank for its non-adherence to the provisions of the fair practices code for lenders or the Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers issued by the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI). The amended Scheme is also available on the Reserve Bank’s website.
Grounds for complaints-
The Banking Ombudsman can receive and consider any complaint relating to the following deficiency in banking services (including internet banking):
- non-payment or inordinate delay in the payment or collection of cheques, drafts, bills etc.;
- non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of small denomination notes tendered for any purpose, and for charging of commission in respect thereof;
- non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of coins tendered and for charging of commission in respect thereof;
- non-payment or delay in payment of inward remittances ;
- failure to issue or delay in issue of drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques;
- non-adherence to prescribed working hours ;
- failure to provide or delay in providing a banking facility (other than loans and advances) promised in writing by a bank or its direct selling agents;
- delays, non-credit of proceeds to parties accounts, non-payment of deposit or non-observance of the Reserve Bank directives, if any, applicable to rate of interest on deposits in any savings,current or other account maintained with a bank ;
- complaints from Non-Resident Indians having accounts in India in relation to their remittances from abroad, deposits and other bank-related matters;
- refusal to open deposit accounts without any valid reason for refusal;
- levying of charges without adequate prior notice to the customer;
- non-adherence by the bank or its subsidiaries to the instructions of Reserve Bank on ATM/Debit card operations or credit card operations;
- non-disbursement or delay in disbursement of pension (to the extent the grievance can be attributed to the action on the part of the bank concerned, but not with regard to its employees);
- refusal to accept or delay in accepting payment towards taxes, as required by Reserve Bank/Government;
- refusal to issue or delay in issuing, or failure to service or delay in servicing or redemption of Government securities;
- forced closure of deposit accounts without due notice or without sufficient reason;
- refusal to close or delay in closing the accounts;
- non-adherence to the fair practices code as adopted by the bank or non-adherence to the provisions of the Code of Bank s Commitments to Customers issued by Banking Codes and Standards Board of India and as adopted by the bank ;
- non-observance of Reserve Bank guidelines on engagement of recovery agents by banks; and
- any other matter relating to the violation of the directives issued by the Reserve Bank in relation to banking or other services.
A customer can also lodge a complaint on the following grounds of deficiency in service with respect to loans and advances
Form of complainant
A person can also file an online complainant simply by clicking on the given link.
Addresses of Banking Ombudsmen