Consumers beware!
Act on delayed pension
Pushpa Girimaji

Last year, following my decision to return to my village, I sent a written request to my bank to transfer my savings bank account as well as the Pension Payment Order (PPO) to a branch close to my residence and completed all the formalities. The bank transferred the SB account, but my pension is not being credited to the account, despite several letters to the bank. What do I do?

This is unfortunate because the banking regulator (RBI) has specified the procedure that banks should follow in case of such transfer. The regulator says that in such cases, both the old and the new branches have to ensure that all the required documents are received by the transferee branch within three months. In those three months, the transferee or the new branch should pay the pension on the basis of the photocopy of the pensioner's PPO. In this case, both the branches have failed to act as per the regulator's instructions.

The RBI has also mandated that a pensioner is entitled to compensation for delayed credit of pension/arrears at the rate 8 per cent and this interest should be credited to the pensioner's account automatically by the bank on the same day when the bank pays the delayed credit of such pension or arrears, without any claim from the pensioner.

Write a letter to the nodal officer of the bank, drawing her/his attention to the regulator's mandate. If it is not sorted out by the nodal officer, you should file a complaint before the Banking Ombudsman.

In fact, if you see the annual report on the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (2011-2012) released by the RBI on January 4, 2013, you will notice an almost identical case decided by the Ombudsman.

The public sector bank through which I get my pension, suddenly reduced the amount by half. Upon inquiring, I was informed that the bank had made a mistake in the computation of pension and paid me more than the amount due so the amount was being recovered from me. The sudden reduction has caused me lot of financial hardship, particularly given the steep rise in the prices of essential commodities. . How do I deal with this situation?

Since the bank had committed a mistake, the proper course would have been for the bank to inform you of it and adjust the amount in smaller instalments, after consulting you. Instead, the bank has behaved in a highly arbitrary manner. It neither informed you of the error committed by it, nor consulted you on how to correct it. This is highly improper.

In its 'Q &A' put out for pensioners on its website, the Reserve Bank of India says that banks have the right to recover any excess amount credited to the account of the pensioner either due to delay in receipt of any material information or due to any bona fide error (on the part of the bank) and banks take an undertaking from the pensioner to this effect. The bank will probably point to this and also the undertaking given by you and say that it has the right to recover the excess amount. You need to, however, point out that the recovery of this excess amount cannot be done in an arbitrary manner and should be done in consultation with the pensioner. Having committed the mistake, the least that the bank can do is to recover the money in small instalments spread over a longer period, so that you are not inconvenienced. If the bank fails to listen to you, write to the Nodal Officer of the bank. If the matter is not sorted out at that level, you will need to approach the Banking Ombudsman (