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SC Directs RBI to Lay Down Regulations in Six Months for Locker Facility Management in Banks

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Holding that banks cannot wash off their hands towards their customers for the operation of lockers, the Supreme Court Friday directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to lay down regulations within six months mandating the steps to be taken by banks with respect to locker facility management. A bench comprising Justices M M Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran said with the advent of globalization, banking institutions have acquired a very significant role in the life of the common man as both domestic and international economic transactions within the country have increased multiple folds.

The top court said people are hesitant to keep their liquid assets at home as “we are steadily moving towards a cashless economy.” Thus, as is evident from the rising demand for such services, lockers have become an essential service provided by every banking institution. Such services may be availed of by citizens as well as by foreign nationals, the bench said. Moreover, due to rapid gains in technology, “we are now transitioning from dual keyoperated lockers to electronically operated lockers,” the top court said.

In the electronically operated lockers, though the customer may have partial access to the locker through passwords or ATM pin, etc., they are unlikely to possess the technological knowhow to control the operation of such lockers, the bench said. On the other hand, there is the possibility that miscreants may manipulate the technologies used in these systems to gain access to the lockers without the customers’ knowledge or consent, it said.

The apex court said that a customer is completely at the mercy of the bank, which is the more resourceful party, for the protection of their assets. “In such a situation, the banks cannot wash off their hands and claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for the operation of the locker,” it said.

The bench said that very purpose for which the customer avails of the locker hiring facility is so that they may rest assured that their assets are being properly taken care of. Such actions of the banks would not only violate the relevant provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, but also damage investor confidence and harm our reputation as an emerging economy.

Thus it is necessary that the RBI lays down comprehensive directions mandating the steps to be taken by banks with respect to locker facility/safe deposit facility management, the court said adding that banks should not have the liberty to impose unilateral and unfair terms on the consumers. In view of the same, we direct the RBI to issue suitable rules or regulations as aforesaid within six months from the date of this judgment, it said.

The bench also held that it is also left open to the RBI to issue suitable rules with respect to the responsibility owed by banks for any loss or damage to the contents of the lockers, so that the controversy on this issue is clarified as well. The judgment came on an appeal filed by Kolkata native Amitabha Dasgupta against a order of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

Dasgupta filed a complaint before the District Consumer Forum seeking a direction to United Bank of India to return the seven ornaments that were in the locker; or alternatively pay Rs. 3 lakh towards the cost of jewelry, and compensation for damages. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission accepted the State Commission’s finding that the Consumer Forum has limited jurisdiction to adjudicate on the recovery of the contents of the locker.



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Airline CEOs, Biden Officials Consider Green-Fuel Breaks

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Chief executives of the nation’s largest passenger and cargo airlines met with key Biden administration officials Friday to talk about reducing emissions from airplanes and push incentives for lower-carbon aviation fuels.

The White House said the meeting with climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also touched on economic policy and curbing the spread of COVID-19 travel has been a vector for the virus. But industry officials said emissions dominated the discussion.

United Airlines said CEO Scott Kirby asked administration officials to support incentives for sustainable aviation fuel and technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere. In December, United said it invested an undisclosed amount in a carbon-capture company partly owned by Occidental Petroleum.

A United Nations aviation group has concluded that biofuels will remain a tiny source of aviation fuel for several years. Some environmentalists would prefer the Biden administration to impose tougher emissions standards on aircraft rather than create breaks for biofuels.

Biofuels are false solutions that dont decarbonize air travel, said Clare Lakewood, a climate-law official with the Center for Biological Diversity. Real action on aircraft emissions requires phasing out dirty, aging aircraft, maximizing operational efficiencies and funding the rapid development of electrification.

Airplanes account for a small portion of emissions that cause climate change about 2% to 3% but their share has been growing rapidly and is expected to roughly triple by mid-century with the global growth in travel.

The airline trade group says U.S. carriers have more than doubled the fuel efficiency of their fleets since 1978 and plan further reductions in carbon emissions. But the independent International Council on Clean Transportation says passenger traffic is growing nearly four times faster than fuel efficiency, leading to a 33% increase in emissions between 2013 and 2019.

The U.S. accounts for about 23% of aircraft carbon-dioxide emissions, followed by Europe at 19% and China at 13%, the transportation group’s researchers estimated.

The White House said McCarthy, Buttigieg and economic adviser Brian Deese were grateful and optimistic to hear the airline CEOs talk about current and future efforts to combat climate change.

Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America, said the exchange was positive.

Airlines are ready, willing and able partners, and we want to be part of the solution” to climate change, Calio said in a statement. We stand ready to work in partnership with the Biden administration.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor



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