Do not expect any compensation for theft or burglary of valuables in safe deposit boxes of public sector banks as the locker hiring agreement absolves them of all liability.
This bitter truth was disclosed in an RTI response by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and 19 PSU banks.
RBI has said it has not issued any specific direction in this regard or prescribed any parameters to assess the loss suffered by a customer.
Even under the RTI response, all public sectors banks have washed their hands of any responsibility.
According to the lawyer “the relationship they have with customers with regard to lockers is that of lessee (landlord) and lessor (tenant)”.
Some banks, in their locker hiring agreements, have made it clear that any item stored in the locker is at the customer’s own risk.
The common feature of all locker hiring agreements states “the bank will not be responsible for any loss or damage of the contents kept in the safe deposit vault as a result of any act of war or civil disorder or theft or burglary and the contents will be kept by the hirer at his or her sole risk and responsibility”.
“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”.
The lawyer Kush Kalra raised questions before the CCI “why not just keep the valuables at home after insuring them, instead of paying rent to the bank for a locker when it is not going to take any responsibility”.
He alleged that all these banks, have formed a “cartel” to indulge in such “anti-competitive” practices.