HAVE you filled the nomination form for your bank accounts and safe deposit locker? If so, have you got an acknowledgement from the bank confirming registration of the nomination?
If your answer to either or both of these questions is in the negative, I would suggest that you complete these essential formalities without any delay. While doing so, I would suggest that you also take your bank to task — because it is their duty to get every customer to fill up the nomination form, register it and give you an acknowledgement for it.
The banking regulator has been asking banks to comply with these legal formalities, but banks often ignore this important advisory. In some cases, they may get new customers to fill up the forms, but not bother to ensure that old customers also follow suit.
In fact, in its latest master circular on customer service, released in July this year, the Reserve Bank refers to an observation made by the Allahabad High Court, wherein it said: "It will be most appropriate that the Reserve Bank of India issues guidelines to the effect that no savings account or fixed deposit in a single name be accepted unless the name of the nominee is given by the depositor. It will go a long way to protect the interests of innocent widows and children, who are dragged in long-drawn proceedings in the court for claiming the amount, which lawfully belongs to them."
The regulator also points out that some banks do not have a system of acknowledging the receipt of the duly completed nomination form and giving it to the customer. Saying that this did not meet with the legal requirements, the RBI says that banks should strictly comply with the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, and the Banking Companies (Nomination) Rules, 1985, and devise a proper system of acknowledging the receipt of the duly completed form of nomination, cancellation and or variation of the nomination. Such acknowledgement should be given to all the customers, irrespective of whether the same is demanded by them.
The regulator also emphasises that banks are required to promptly register in their books, the nomination, cancellation or`A0changes in the nomination.
The Reserve Bank also advises banks to indicate on the passbook, whether the account holder has availed the nomination facility and whether it has been duly registered, by stamping the inscription "Nomination registered" on the face of the passbook. In fact, emphasising the need for nomination, the regulator has asked banks to educate consumers on it and give the subject wide publicity, even`A0put reminders in chequebooks, the regulator says. But not every bank follows this mandate.
A recent case that came up before the national consumer disputes redressal commission underscores the problem that one may face in the absence of such nominations. The case here pertains to a safe deposit locker hired by Jaiswal in Central Bank of India, for which no nomination was done. This resulted in his wife waging a long legal battle lasting over 10 years before the consumer courts and eventually losing the case.
Her contention was that she had hired the locker in 1984 with her husband and it was in their joint name and on the death of her husband, she became the sole owner of the contents. By refusing to give her that access, the bank was guilty of deficiency in service, she argued.
The bank, however, pointed out that even though Jaiswal asked for the locker to be in their joint name and the application was filled accordingly, she had never signed the form nor furnished her specimen signature. Nor had she ever operated the locker, either alone or with her husband. Now following his death, another woman, claiming to be his wife, was seeking access to the locker. The bank, therefore, had asked for succession certificate from a court of competent jurisdiction.
The consumer courts
agreed with the bank and held that there was no deficiency on the part
of the bank in refusing her access to the locker (RP No 3977 of 2006,
decided on 14-10-2011).