Skip to main content

1.86 lakh sign petition: Bank account portability an "effective antidote" to Indian banks' restrictive practices

By Our Representative
A whopping 1.85 lakh plus people have signed a petition floated by well-known columnist-activist Sucheta Dalal of the Moneylife Foundation asking Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel to intervene in what it calls “unfair treatment that bank customers suffer in the form of frequent, arbitrary and one-sided increase in banking charges.”
Calling it a “consensus view of a group of knowledgeable consumer activists, policy watchers, bankers, and trade unions”, the petition seeks “urgent policy changes to ensure that banks treat bank customers fairly”, contending, banks are refusing to “automatically pass on contractual benefits such as lower interest to those with floating rate home loans” to the consumers.
Those who have floated the petition include Dhirendra Kumar of the Foundation Value Research; Abhay Datar of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat; Sunil Bhandare of the All India Bank Depositors Association; CH Venktatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association; Dolphy D’souza, convener, Police Reforms Watch; and Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative.
Accusing the banks of “customer-unfriendly practices”, the petition regrets, the RBI has “remained silent on several anti-depositor actions of banks”, adding, “The Banking Ombudsman's rulings also tend to side with banks, making no attempt to observe the pattern of complaints which would amply bring out rampant mis-selling of insurance and wealth management products.”
The petition underlines, following “increased use of digital payments” post- demonetization, “it is necessary to have in place a mechanism or system to protect customers from unauthorized banking transactions”, adding, “A master circular/notification by RBI on limiting liability in an unauthorized banking transaction will make a huge impact on protecting customers from frauds.”
Wanting “effective portability of bank accounts” as a “good anti-dote to several restrictive practices followed by the banks”, the petition says, “This has been successfully implemented in the telecom sector and helped consumers.”
It regrets, “No practical portability option exists at present due to standing instructions for both incomes (pensions, annuities, dividends, interests) and expenses (utilities etc.) and the difficulties associated with changing those standing instructions.” It adds, “Portability of loan exists on paper, but has to be made easier and seamless to execute without imposing fiscal and non-fiscal burden on the consumer.”
Referring to the the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana which provides interest subsidy to loan, the petition says, lenders are being allowed to “overcharge for such loans” nullifying the advantages of the “subsidy provided from taxpayers’ funds.”
Insisting that “banks cannot have one-sided terms and conditions in their agreements with consumers”, the petition says, “One-sided loan agreements with details buried in the fine print are bleeding customers. RBI, in its communication, must be specific about barring the levy of unfair charges otherwise bankers take undue advantage and fleece consumers.” The petition seeks a “basic model agreement must be prescribed by the RBI to limit banks from harming customers.”
Wanting that “frequent increase in charges” should be immediately stopped, the petition gives the example of HDFC Bank which has “started levying charges for an invite only programme, which unethically assumes that the customer is already in and willing to pay for it”, adding, “The levy is stopped only when the consumer notices it and calls the bank to protest.”
Pointing out that the RBI issued a Charter of Customer Rights on December 3, 2014 recognising “basic rights” of bank customers, asking banks to adapt and implement them, the petition calls the charter a “toothless statement, saying, “Three years later, the RBI has not fixed timeframes for grievance redressal nor announced penalties for failure to treat consumers fairly, despite repeated appeals by consumer groups.”

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.