RBI amends Banking Ombudsman Scheme: Highlights

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The central bank has extended the scope of Banking Ombudsman Scheme. The Reserve bank said that under the amended scheme, a customer would also be able to lodge a complaint against the bank for its non-adherence to RBI instructions with regard to mobile banking/ electronic banking services in India. As per the amendment, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Banking Ombudsman to pass an award has been doubled to 20 lakh rupees.

“Under the amended scheme, a customer would also be able to lodge a complaint against the bank for its non-adherence to RBI instructions with regard to mobile banking/ electronic banking services in India,” the central bank said.

The RBI had widened the scope of its Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006, to include, inter alia, deficiencies arising out of sale of insurance, mutual fund, and other third-party investment products by banks.

Further, “the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Banking Ombudsman to pass an Award has been increased from existing rupees one million to rupees two million”, it said.

Compensation not exceeding Rs 1 lakh can also be awarded by the Ombudsman to the complainant for loss of time, expenses incurred as also, harassment and mental anguish suffered by the complainant.

Banking Ombudsman is a quasi judicial authority functioning under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006. The authority was created to enable resolution of complaints of customers of banks relating to services rendered by the lenders.

What is Banking Ombudsman Scheme?

Banking Ombudsman Scheme is a mechanism created by the RBI to address the complaints raised by bank customers. It is run by the RBI directly to ensure customer protection in the banking industry.

According to the RBI, “The Scheme enables an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of complaints relating to certain services rendered by banks.”

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was introduced under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 by RBI with effect from 1995.

Who may by the Ombudsman?

The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by the Reserve Bank of India. He has the responsibility to redress customer complaints against deficiency in certain banking services. At present fifteen Ombudsmen were appointed by the RBI to settle complaints and they are appointed in state capitals.

All Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Scheduled Primary Co-operative Banks are covered under the Scheme.

Duties and Powers

The Banking Ombudsman can receive and consider any complaint relating to a number of deficiencies related to banking operations including internet banking. RBI has mentioned a large number of service deficiencies by banks to customers where the customers can approach the Ombudsman through a complaint.

Following are some of the instances:

  • 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 ;

When a customer can approach the Ombudsman?

A customer can file a complaint before the Banking Ombudsman if the bank doesn’t gives a reply to the customer within a period of one month or the bank rejects the complaint, or if the complainant is not satisfied with the reply by the bank.