An RTI response by the RBI and 19 PSU banks has disclosed that locker hiring agreement between the public sector banks and the customers absolves the banks of any liability for theft or burglary in the lockers.
The banks stated in the response that the relationship between the locker hirer and the bank is that of a lessor and a lessee and therefore, the lessor is solely responsible for the valuables kept in the locker.
Further, the 19 banks said some locker hiring agreements specify that the customer is solely responsible for the valuables and may insure the same.
The RTI response ( a copy of which is with LiveLaw) read: “While the bank will exercise all such normal precautions, it does not accept any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage whatsoever, sustained to items deposited with it. Accordingly, hirers are advised in their own interest to insure any item of value deposited in a safe deposit locker in the bank.”
Appalled, the RTI applicant has now approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI) alleging the banks to be indulging in cartelisation and anti-competitive practices. Advocate Kush Kalra, the lawyer who had sought the information under the transparency law, has asked the CCI why an individual should pay rent for a bank that refuses to take liability for the valuables when the same valuables can be kept at home after procuring insurance.
Speaking to LiveLaw, Advocate Kalra said “If banks are charging money for operation of bank lockers, banks must also take responsibility for the things kept in lockers”