Thursday, 11 April 2013

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) supplies Incorrect Information under Right to Information Act, 2005

I had filed an application under Right to Information Act, 2005 to Reserve Bank of India's Customer Service Department which is the controlling department of all the Banking Ombudsmen operating in India, asking for the following information:

"Particulars of circulars / instructions / guidelines, etc. issued by the Customer Service Department to Offices of Banking Ombudsman related to processing / disposal of complaints regarding failed ATM transactions / short dispensation of cash at ATMs / double debit of ATM transaction amount, etc. at Bank ATMs since the Customer Service Department came into being."

Customer Service Department of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) replied through their letter dated May 4, 2012 that "No specific circular relating to processing / disposal of ATM related complaints has been issued by us".

I confronted them by showing a copy of their circular dated 3rd November 2010 in which Customer Service Department had issued clear guidelines to Banking Ombudsmen to deal will complaints relating to Failed ATM transactions. After my appeal under Right to Information Act, Reserve Bank of India supplied revised information vide their letter dated August 13, 2012 in which they acknowledged having issued the circular dated 3rd November 2010 but categorically stated that there were no other circular / directive / advisories on the subject.

(See details in my earlier page: How Reserve Bank of India Contradicted its own Guidelines on ATM Compensation (Opens in new window)

Here's what Reserve Bank of India Does Not Want you to Know:

On May 19, 2010, Mr. Kaza Sudhakar, Chief General Manager of Customer Service Department had addressed an email to all the Banking Ombudsmen in India directing them on several points one of which, point number four, pertained to ATM complaints:

Vide point number 4 of the above email, Banking Ombudsmen were directed: "BO Scheme is confined to transactions within the country except internet transactions. ATM / POS transactions outside the country are not covered"

What this guideline issued to Banking Ombudsmen meant is that if an ATM card issued in India is used by a customer during his / her visit outside India and the transaction fails, Banking Ombudsman in India will not entertain that complaint.

Strangely, I could not find any reference to this guideline in the BO Scheme. Here's the link to the BO Scheme on RBI Website:  Banking Ombudsman Scheme (Opens in new window). The scheme says that complaints related to the business of a bank in India will be covered. I believe that an ATM card issued by a bank in India is part of its business in India. While travelling abroad, a customer of an Indian bank tries to withdraw his / her money from his / her bank account in India. Everything seems to be part of a bank's business in India but not according to the email of May 19, 2010 that Reserve Bank of India does not want to become public knowledge. God knows how many complaints form Indian banking customers relating to failed ATM transactions abroad have been rejected by Banking Ombudsmen.

I advise all banking customers in India to be very careful while using their international ATM cards abroad. If the ATM does not dispense money but your account gets debited, you cannot complain to a Banking Ombudsman.

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All information given in this blog is obtained from sources in the public domain, RTI applications, discussions with bankers, bank customers in India and also with some employees of Reserve Bank of India having knowledge of the working of various Offices of Banking Ombudsman in India. All information in this blog is presented on a best effort basis and is not claimed to be complete information on any of the subjects covered in this blog. Use of any information given in this blog is purely voluntary on the part of the readers. Author of this blog does not assume any responsibility for any action of the readers related to any matter discussed in this blog or any consequences thereof. Readers of this blog are advised to consult a legal practitioner before taking any action related to any matter discussed in this blog.