Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that all leading banks should issue the locker agreement to its holders before January 1, 2023, as the new locker rules will be implemented from that date.  

As per RBI’s revised guidelines, “Banks shall ensure that any unfair terms or conditions are not incorporated in their locker agreements. Further, the terms of the contract shall not be more onerous than required in the ordinary course of business to safeguard the interests of the bank. Banks shall renew their locker agreements with existing locker customers by January 1, 2023”. 

The RBI said all banks need to circulate a new locker agreement to their safe deposit locker holders under the new rules. Banks can use the IBA-drafted model locker agreement, which should comply with the updated instructions and Supreme Court’s directives. 

As per RBI’s new guidelines, which were declared on August 8, 2021, and came into effect on January 1, 2022, it is the banks’ responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the premises where the safe deposit vaults are placed. 

Banks will be eligible to pay in case of any loss of locker content resulting from the bank’s negligence, as per the new RBI guidelines. 

Customers can get up to 100 times the bank charges if the valuables stored in the vaults are robbed or destroyed due to fire or building collapse.  

“It is the responsibility of banks to take all steps for the safety and security of the premises in which the safe deposit vaults are housed. It has the responsibility to ensure that incidents like fire, theft/ burglary/ robbery, dacoity, and building collapse do not occur in the bank’s premises due to its own shortcomings, negligence, and by any act of omission/commission. As banks cannot claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for the loss of contents of the locker, in instances where the loss of contents of the locker is due to incidents mentioned above or attributable to fraud committed by its employee(s), the banks’ liability shall be for an amount equivalent to one hundred times the prevailing annual rent of the safe deposit locker.” 

The RBI has said that it is mandatory for banks to install CCTV to monitor the locker rooms. Besides, it has also asked the banks to keep the data of CCTV for 180 days. This will help in checking if any discrepancy occurs.  

The RBI has also noted that banks make the availability of lockers public by displaying the information on a display board within the bank. The customers should be apprised of the list of empty lockers, the waiting list for the locker, and the number on the waiting list. 

SMS alerts 

In order to protect customers from fraud, the RBI directed that the respective banks should send SMS and e-mails every time a customer accesses his locker. This alert will protect customers from fraud. 

Rent of locker 

The banks can now demand a term deposit at the time of allocation of a locker that would be taken as the rent for three years.  

For existing locker holders, banks cannot insist on such Term Deposits or from those who have satisfactory operative accounts.