Where the lockers have remained unoperated for more than three years for medium risk category or one year for a higher risk category, banks should immediately contact the locker-hirer and advise him/her to either operate the locker or surrender it. This exercise should be carried out even if the locker hirer is paying the rent regularly.
In case the locker-hirer does not respond nor operate the locker, banks should consider opening the lockers after giving due notice to him. In this context, banks should incorporate a clause in the locker agreement that in case the locker remains unoperated for more than one year, the bank would have the right to cancel the allotment of the locker and open the locker, even if the rent is paid regularly.
Banks should give a copy of the agreement regarding operation of the locker to the locker-hirer at the time of allotment of the locker.
Banking Regulations Act provides for a banking company to release the contents of a safety locker to the nominee of the hirer of such locker, in the event of the death of the hirer, after making an inventory of the contents of the safety locker in the manner directed by the Reserve Bank.
In order to ensure that the amount of deposits, articles left in safe custody and contents of lockers are returned to the genuine nominee, as also to verify the proof of death, banks may devise their own claim formats or follow the procedure, if any, suggested by the Indian Banks’ Association for the purpose.
Nomination facilities are available only in the case of individual depositors and not in respect of persons jointly depositing articles for safe custody.
As regards lockers hired jointly, on the death of any one of the joint hirers, the contents of the locker are only allowed to be removed jointly by the nominees and the survivor(s) after an inventory was taken in the prescribed manner. In such a case, after such removal preceded by an inventory, the nominee and surviving hirer(s) may still keep the entire contents with the same bank, if they so desire, by entering into a fresh contract of hiring a locker.
In case the locker was hired jointly with survivorship clause and the hirers instructed that the access of the locker should be given over to “either or survivor”, “anyone or survivor” or “former or survivor” or according to any other survivorship clause, banks should follow the mandate in the event of the death of one or more of the locker-hirers.
As per RBI Master Circular, Banks should note that since the access given to the survivor(s) / nominee(s), subject to the foregoing conditions, would constitute a full discharge of the bank’s liability, insistence on production of legal representation is superfluous and unwarranted and only serves to cause entirely avoidable inconvenience to the survivor(s) / nominee(s) and would, therefore, invite serious supervisory disapproval. In such case, therefore, while giving access to the survivor(s) / nominee(s) of the deceased locker hirer / depositor of the safe custody articles, the banks should desist from insisting on production of succession certificate, letter of administration or probate, etc., or obtain any bond of indemnity or surety from the survivor(s) / nominee(s).